THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - March 17, 2017

Mar 20, 2017

In this issue:


Unity leads Sanctuary listing.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration listed the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument as a potential National Marine Sanctuary this week, a significant step toward the goal of sanctuary status that Governor Torres and I requested of then-President Obama last September. We both view Sanctuary status as a way to fulfill the promises of economic, environmental, and cultural benefit made when the Monument was created by President George Bush. Friends of the Marianas Trench, led by Mr. Ignacio Cabrera, followed up in November by filing a nomination petition backed by Commonwealth legislators, community leaders, and the 1,500 residents of the Marianas and Guam who signed a petition in favor of sanctuary designation. With this strong backing, Governor Torres and I will urge NOAA and the new Trump administration to begin the process of public consideration, set out in the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, that can now lead to making the Monument a National Marine Sanctuary.

Trump budget: the good, the bad. 

The good news in the FY18 budget released by President Trump on Thursday is an increase in Title I education grants. I was successful at getting a larger share of this money for the Marianas in the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015—the only funding formula change in the law. And, at the level the President has budgeted, our schools would receive $12.2 million next year, an increase of $5.2 million. I was also glad to see that the Trump budget protects Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund monies administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. The funding formula change in those two programs, won in the years since I came into office, has brought our islands $59 million in new infrastructure money. Elsewhere, the President’s budget is grim. $54 billion in new money for the Pentagon is taken out of domestic programs nationwide. The table below estimates the cuts to the Marianas. A second, expanded budget blueprint is expected from the President in May. 

Lejeune vets get toxin presumption. 

The rule, presuming that anyone who served in the military at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 was exposed to toxic drinking water, went into effect on March 14. Some members of the military, the reserve, and the National Guard stationed at the Marine Corps base in North Carolina during those years have subsequently been diagnosed with adult leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes including aplastic anemia, cancer of the bladder, kidney and liver, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or Parkinson’s disease. Under the new rule, these servicemembers may be eligible for disability benefits. To apply servicemembers must provide records showing at least 30 days of service at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River, including satellite camps and housing areas, and medical diagnosis of one of the eight covered diseases. For more information go here.

USCIS updates camera code. 

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Wednesday that visitors to USCIS facilities, including the Application Support Center in Saipan, may now use cell phones, laptops, and tablets in the offices with certain restrictions. The camera and recording features of phone are prohibited at all times, except during naturalization or citizenship ceremonies. In addition, devices must be silenced while in the waiting area or other common areas and turned off completely during interviews or when seeking assistance at the information center.



  • Congressional staff assistant – Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan is seeking a Staff Assistant in the Washington, D.C. congressional office. Responsibilities include answering phones, maintaining the front office, greeting visitors and giving Capitol tours, answering constituent requests for general information, assisting the office manager with scheduling and bookkeeping, and assisting staff with other various administrative and legislative duties in a supportive role. Excellent writing, verbal and organizational skills are essential. Ties to the Northern Mariana Islands preferred. Qualified candidates should submit a cover letter, resume and two writing samples to No phone calls or drop-ins, please.
  • Clerk (Veterinary Services) – The U.S. Army Medical Command has an opening for a Clerk in Guam. Incumbent will keep records and accounts as well as provide full client services for animal veterinary clinic among other administrative duties. Position is open until March 30, 2017. For more information, go to
  • Support Programs Regional Director – The Department of the Navy, Joint Region Marianas has an opening for a Fleet and Family Support Programs Regional Director on Guam. Incumbent will perform a full range of duties, responsibilities, and taskings associated with maintaining high quality, flexible, support programs of human services for service members and their families. Position is open until April 14, 2017. For more information, go to
Legislative Highlights 


On the floor 

  • H.R. 1259 – VA Accountability First Act of 2017 (Passed, 237 - 178)
  • H.R. 1367 – To improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes (Passed, 412 - 0)
  • H.R. 1181 – Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (Passed, 240 - 175)

Legislation I Co-sponsored 

  • H.R. 299 – Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017
  • H.R. 1503 – To provide that the Executive Order entitled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States" (March 6, 2017), shall have no force or effect, to prohibit the use of Federal funds to enforce the Executive Order, and for other purposes


On the Floor 

  • H.R. 382 – 100 Years of Women in Congress Act
  • H.R. 1029 – Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act of 2017
  • H.R. 1238 – Securing our Agriculture and Food Act
  • H.R. 1302 – Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act of 2017
  • H.R. 1101 – Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2017
  • H.R. 372 – Comprehensive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017
  • H.R. ___ – American Health Care Act of 2017

Committee Hearings 

Tuesday, March 21

Wednesday, March 22