THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - March 22, 2019

Mar 24, 2019

In this issue:

Shark, wildlife bills get hearing

Senate may act on disaster money

$10.6m for CUC Yutu repairs

SBA outreach center closing

Art competition deadline nears

Opportunities

Legislative Highlights

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Shark, wildlife bills get hearing

The Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife holds a legislative hearing Tuesday on two of my bills. H.R. 737, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2019, expands on a Marianas conservation law to ban the trade in shark fins nationwide. It has strong bipartisan support and 170 cosponsors. H.R. 1809 amends the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act and the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act to give state-share funding to each non-state area—an increase to $8 million from the $2.5 million the Marianas now receives. The money comes from federal excise taxes on hunting equipment, boats, and other recreational equipment. Funds can be used to protect wildlife and habitat and build docks and other public benefits. The Delegates and Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico are all cosponsors to H.R. 1809. Similar legislation passed the House in the last Congress, but the Senate did not act.

Senate may act on disaster money

The U.S. Senate may act next week on the disaster supplemental appropriation passed by the House on January 16. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has filed the necessary cloture motion setting up the vote. What the Senate version of H.R. 268 will include, however, is still being negotiated. Proposals from the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) all include $25.2 million for the Marianas food stamp program, as a result of my floor amendment during House debate, as well as $56 million set-aside for solid waste management and $10.4 million for water and sewer projects that we negotiated for the Marianas. In addition, the typhoons we experienced in 2018 are specifically referenced to make the Marianas eligible for recovery money from the Economic Development Administration ($600 million), Rural Development ($150 million), and the Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery ($1.06 billion). One area of difference: the $36 million for Medicaid that I amended to the House bill during floor debate. Senate Republicans’ bills have not included this money, even though Governor Torres, also a Republican, has attested that Marianas Medicaid is out of money.

$10.6M for CUC Yutu repairs

The Federal Emergency Management Agency Tuesday announced an additional $10,644,640.83 for damage to the Marianas’ electrical distribution system from Super Typhoon Yutu. FEMA provided $53,223,204.17 for electrical repairs in February. But, shortly after, President Trump authorized an increase in the federal share to 90 percent for all categories of Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation, and the Other Needs Assistance. This week’s award results from that federal increase. FEMA gives the money directly to the Commonwealth government. The Commonwealth then reimburses the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation, which did the work, after a review process and upon receipt of appropriate documentation from CUC.

SBA outreach center closing

The U.S. Small Business Administration will close its Disaster Loan Outreach Center on Saipan at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 30. Applicants and borrowers can still receive information and have their questions answered by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov or calling the customer service line at 800-659-2955. The hours are 10 p.m. to 10 a.m., ChST. Information on disaster recovery loans is available on SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster.

OPPORTUNITIES

Grants:

Public Comments:

LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

THIS WEEK

On the Floor

  • The House is in recess for the District Work Period.

Legislation I Sponsored

  • H.R. 1809 - To amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act and the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act, to provide parity for United States territories and the District of Columbia, to make technical corrections to such Acts and related laws, and for other purposes. 

Legislation I Cosponsored

  • H.R. 1830 - To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor
  • H.R. 1288 - Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act of 2019
  • H.R. 1380 - Big Cat Public Safety Act

NEXT WEEK

On the Floor

  • H.R. 7 - Paycheck Fairness Act
  • H. Res. 124 - Expressing opposition to banning service in the Armed Forces by openly transgender individuals.

Committee Activity

Tuesday, March 26

  • Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Legislative Hearing on H.R. 737 (Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2019), H.R. 1809 (To amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act and the Dingell-Johnson Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, to provide parity for United States territories and the District of Columbia, to make technical corrections to such Acts and related laws, and for other purposes), and other bills

Wednesday, March 27

  • Committee on Natural Resources Oversight Hearing on “Examining the Department of the Interior’s Spending Priorities and the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Proposal” 

Thursday, March 28

  • Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Oversight Hearing on “The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan”