THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - March 29, 2019

Apr 1, 2019

In this issue:

Labor certification for CWs begins

Kagman health center growing

Protect our healthcare

Republicans delay disaster bill

More recovery funds expected

Army Corps gives updates

Apprenticeships open career paths

Public Schools Week marked

Hearing highlights energy issues

Shark fin, parity bills gain support

Student artists tours the Capitol

Art entries due in two weeks

Federal judges visit

MITT comment period extended anew

Honoring our Vietnam vets

Puerto Rico pushes statehood

Opportunities

Legislative Highlights

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Labor certification for CWs begins

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will start accepting CW applications for fiscal year 2020 on Thursday, April 4, the agency announced on Monday. New applications must include an approved temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. USCIS will reject FY2020 CW applications filed without it. The process for obtaining a temporary labor certification is now available on the Federal Register. And USDOL is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, April 2 to show employers how to complete and submit the forms. The DOL certification is among the changes to the CW program made by the U.S. Workforce Act of 2018, my bill that became law on July 24, 2018. The new requirement aims to ensure that U.S. workers are not overlooked for jobs in the Marianas and that hiring a CW worker will not adversely affect U.S. worker wages and working conditions. 

Republicans delay disaster bill

The Republican majority continues to delay taking action on H.R. 268, which would provide the Marianas and other areas hit by storms, wildfires, and natural disasters with recovery money. And the most recent Republican proposal fails to include Medicaid money for the Marianas. I added $36 million for Marianas Medicaid with an amendment during House debate on the bill, because our program is down to its last dollars. Even though Governor Torres is on record supporting more funding and the Trump administration has confirmed that Marianas Medicaid has run out of funds, Republicans in the Senate continue to say no. The Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, has filed an amendment that includes Medicaid funding for the Marianas and spoke this week on our behalf: “Mr. President, on January 16, more than 2 months ago, the House passed a supplemental appropriations bill, H.R. 268, which addressed the needs of all communities impacted by recent natural disasters. … It provided aid to the people in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, who were struck last year by typhoons… Instead of moving quickly on this package to help those Americans in need, Senate Republicans, at the President's insistence, held up the House bill…” Thank you, Senator Leahy.

More recovery funds expected

Earlier this week, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations Len Wolfson wrote to inform me that HUD anticipates allocating Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds soon. The letter also confirms the department has received the damage assessments and unmet recovery needs data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration for all jurisdictions, including the Northern Marianas, affected by a 2018 presidentially declared disaster. This will be issued to determine allocation of the $1.68 billion CDBG-DR funds provided by Congress last October. Earlier this month, I wrote to Governor Torres urging his administration to heed HUD staff recommendations for preparing for the CDBG process and requirements.

Apprenticeships open career paths

On Tuesday, the Higher Education and Workforce Investment Committee examined innovations in expanding registered apprenticeship programs. I highlighted the importance of apprenticeship programs working closely with community colleges given their leading role in education for the Marianas and communities across our country. Testimony from Ms. Jennifer Carlson, who leads an initiative that helps people build skills to break into the technology industry, calls for creating a $250 million federal matching fund that states and territories like the Northern Marianas could access to support the costs of classroom training and developing apprenticeships in non-traditional sectors like technology. In response to my question, she explained that such a federal investment could create 30,000 apprenticeships each year. I look forward to working on ways we can invest more in career pathways like apprenticeships as the committee works to reauthorize the Higher Education Act this Congress. Watch our interaction here.

Public Schools Week marked

March 25-29, 2019 is Public Schools Week, where our nation recognizes the critical role of our public schools in ensuring every child has access to a quality education as well as the contributions and accomplishments of students, parents, educators and education advocates in our public schools. This is why I joined my colleagues in introducing H. Res. 254, a bipartisan resolution that not only commemorates Public Schools Week but also calls for prioritizing stable, equitable, predictable, and adequate funding for public schools to ensure that students and teachers have the resources they need to succeed. These are priorities I share and am committed to advancing as chair of the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee. 

Shark fin, parity bills gain support

The Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee heard two of my bills on Tuesday: H.R. 737, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, and H.R. 1809, which calls for territorial parity in wildlife and sport fish restoration funding. In discussing the shark fin bill, which now has over 180 cosponsors, I entered into the record a study showing that eight percent of sharks are killed each year while the average rebound rate is under five percent, explaining the dangerous decline in shark populations. My territorial parity bill, which 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), gained the support of Ranking Member McClintock during the hearing and should be able to move quickly through the Natural Resources Committee. Watch my discussion of the bills with the witnesses here.

MITT comment period extended anew

The Navy has extended the public comment period again, by an additional 15 days, for the Mariana Islands Training and Testing Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. For consideration in the final EIS, public comments may now be submitted until Wednesday, April 17 Chamorro Standard Time. In the draft supplemental EIS/OEIS, the Navy reassesses the potential environmental impacts associated with conducting ongoing and future military readiness activities at sea and on Farallon de Medinilla. Copies of the draft supplemental EIS/OEIS are available for public review online and at the public libraries on Tinian, Rota and Saipan. Comments may be submitted online at https://mitt-eis.com or by mail. For more information, go to https://mitt-eis.com/.

OPPORTUNITIES

Grants:

Public Comments:

LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

THIS WEEK

On the Floor

  • H.R. 7 – Paycheck Fairness Act (Passed, 242-187)
  • H.Res. 124 – Expressing opposition to banning service in the Armed Forces by openly transgender individuals (Passed, 238-185)
  • H.R. 920 – Venezuela Arms Restriction Act (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 854 – Humanitarian Assistance to the Venezuelan People Act of 2019 (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 1616 – European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019 (Passed, 391-24)
  • H.R. 1839 – Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 1477 – Russia-Venezuelan Threat Mitigation Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

Legislation I Cosponsored

  • H.R. 1865 - To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint a coin in commemoration of the opening of the National Law Enforcement Museum in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 1884 - To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to improve affordability of, undo sabotage with respect to, and increase access to health insurance coverage, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 1943 - To provide funding for Federally qualified health centers and the National Health Service Corps. 
  • H.Res. 254 - Expressing support for the designation of the week of March 25 through March 29, 2019, as “Public Schools Week”
  • H.Res. 266 - Recognizing March 31 as “César Chávez Day” in honor of the accomplishments and legacy of César Estrada Chávez

NEXT WEEK

On the Floor

  • H.R. 1585 – Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019
  • H.Res. 271 – Condemning the Trump Administration’s Legal Campaign to Take Away Americans’ Health Care 
  • His Excellency Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will address a Joint Meeting of Congress.
  • Possible Consideration of S.J.Res. 7 – To direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress 

Committee Activity

Tuesday, April 2

  • Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Oversight Hearing on “WOW 101: The State of Western Water Infrastructure and Innovation”

Wednesday, April 3

  • Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment Hearing on “Strengthening Accountability in Higher Education to Better Serve Students and Taxpayers”

Thursday, April 4

  • Committee on Natural Resources Legislative Hearing on H.R. 1904 - “Indian Water Rights Settlement Extension Act”