THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - June 29, 2018

Jul 2, 2018

In this issue: 

U.S. Workforce Act passes Congress

So many to thank…

Commending COL James Pangelinan

Addressing a downwind inequity

Congratulations to Triple J

Where we work for you

$494,000 for Marianas AmeriCorps

Building regional relationships

Looking out for children

Visitors: Chargualaf, Falig, Ignacio, Borja

Opportunities

Legislative Highlights

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U.S. Workforce Act passes Congress

It’s done! The U.S. Senate passed the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act at 7:35 p.m. on Thursday night. Now the Act goes to the President for signature into law. It was a photo finish in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office e-mailed at 7 p.m. “it won’t clear tonight.” But we scrambled to identify which senator had a problem and resolved it in time to get unanimous consent for passage 35 minutes later.

It has never been easy. In late 2016, we began discussions in Congress about what to do after 2019, when the immigration transition period ended. “Our Members will never agree to any extension” was the starting point for those talks. But we listened to everyone’s point of view. Senators Murkowski and Cantwell and I enlisted the Government Accountability Office to report on the necessity of foreign workers for the Marianas’ economy. And we succeeded in getting agreement on a short-term measure, the Northern Mariana Islands Economic Expansion Act, Public Law 115-53, in 2017. That built confidence and brought a bicameral, bipartisan working group up-to-speed on the issues involved. Then, the group went to work on drafting the U.S. Workforce Act.

So many to thank…

Here in Congress it was always—and had to be—a bipartisan effort. Leaders McConnell and Schumer, Chairmen Murkowski and Grassley, my Democratic colleagues Senators Cantwell, Feinstein, Heinrich, Hirono, Menendez, Sanders, and Wyden were all involved. On the House side, I worked especially with Majority Leader McCarthy, Democratic Whip Hoyer, Chairmen Rob Bishop and Bob Goodlatte, and their Democratic counterparts, Representatives Grijalva and Mr. Nadler.

In the Marianas, I am grateful for the participation of all who gave me the benefit of their experiences and ideas in the many “listening sessions” we held last year. Everyone who ever came to their congressional office with a labor or immigration-related problem also added to the database of what is working and what needs to change. Testimony by the business community contributed significantly.

Thanks to the friends we have made over the last ten years at GAO, USCIS, and the Department of Labor for their technical contributions. And thanks to our Legislature and Governor, who have given the U.S. Workforce Act, their complete endorsement. I thank the Governor, too, for the positive influence he had on the Republican opposition to the bill.

Our community is at our best when we work together.

I believe the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act is proof.

Addressing a downwind inequity

Perhaps, because the Marianas was not represented in Congress in 2005, we were not included in a congressionally-mandated study of how fallout from nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands may have harmed people on downwind islands. Guam was; and the National Research Council Committee concluded that “Guam did receive measurable fallout from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific” and that “residents of Guam during that period should be eligible for compensation under [the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act].” In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, I made the case for including the Marianas. Rota is only a short distance from Guam, and Saipan is closer to Bikini Atoll than is Guam. It makes sense our people could also be downwinders and possibly eligible for compensation.

Building regional relationships

The Marianas thrive on our economic and cultural ties with key nations in Asia. I accepted invitations to become a member of the Congressional Study Group on Korea and the Congressional Study Group on Japan. The Groups work to develop mutual understanding with these two nations. Membership will allow me to further strengthen these relationships and promote the Marianas to our neighbors in Asia.

Looking out for children

Who among us is not concerned about the health and safety of the thousands of children separated from their parents at the border under the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy? I joined many of my Democratic colleagues in asking the Administration for a report on the services these children in federal custody are receiving and what funding or other resources are needed to keep them well and safe. Among our specific concerns: the care of toddlers, infants, and children with disabilities, reports of drugs being given to children without parental consent, and the steps being taken to comply with the June 26 U.S. District Court injunction requiring family reunification within 30 days. President Trump ended the practice of family separation by executive order on June 20.

OPPORTUNITIES

Grants:

Public Comment:

LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

THIS WEEK

On the Floor

·     H.R. 6136 – Border Security and Immigration Reform Act (Failed, 121-301)

·     Motion to Go to Conference on H.R. 5515 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (Passed, 403-15)

·     H.R. 6157 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019 (Passed, 359-49)

·     H.R. 5841 – Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (Passed, 400-2)

·     H.R. 4257 – Advancing Conservation and Education Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 299 – Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018 (Passed, 382-0)

·     H.R. 5783 – Cooperate with Law Enforcement Agencies and Watch Act of 2018 (Passed, 379-4)

·     H.R. 435 – Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2017 (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 4294 – Prevention of Private Information Dissemination Act of 2017 (Passed, 392-2)

·     H.R. 6069 – FIND Trafficking Act, as amended (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.Res. 970 – Insisting that the Department of Justice fully comply with the requests, including subpoenas, of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the subpoena issued by the Committee on the Judiciary relating to potential violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by personnel of the Department of Justice and related matters (Passed, 226-183)

Legislation I Cosponsored

·     H.J.Res. 33 – Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women.

·     H.R. 6280 – To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to include Parent PLUS loans in income-contingent and income-based repayment plans, and for other purposes

·     H.R. 6246 – To enable the admission of the territory of Puerto Rico into the Union as a State, and for other purposes

·     H.R. 6238 – To secure the rights of public employees to organize, act concertedly, and bargain collectively, which safeguard the public interest and promote the free and unobstructed flow of commerce, and for other purposes

·     H.R. 6230 – To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide increased labor law protections for agricultural workers, and for other purposes.

NEXT WEEK

The House is in recess for the District Work Period.