THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS -- May 6, 2011

May 6, 2011
  • 9/11 mastermind brought to justice
  • Rota National Park study bill gets hearing
  • President is listening on NMI immigration issues
  • Gas price spike requires congressional oversight
  • Submerged lands bill moving forwards
  • OPPORTUNITIES: Federal contracts, grants, jobs for and in the Marianas
  • Highlights in the legislative program

9/11 mastermind brought to justice.

Americans all breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing that U.S. commandos had ended the life of Osama bin Laden. The suffering this man caused the families of those killed in the 9/11 attack will never end, but at least now they can feel that justice has been served. In the Northern Mariana Islands we lost 14 of our fine young men and women to the wars that followed 9/11; and those who returned alive will bear the scars forever. The families of these soldiers suffered, too, fearing for the safety of their loved ones. And the financial cost to our country has left us deeply in debt and forced to ask whether we can afford to care for our elderly and educate our young. We must always be vigilant against the terrorist threat to our homeland. But the death of Osama bin Laden renews the hope that we can wind down our combat overseas—as the President has promised to do—and refocus our lives and resources on the work of investing in our nation to keep this country great.

Rota National Park study bill gets hearing in 112th Congress.

Wednesday, the Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act breezed through the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. The bill, H.R. 1141, authorizes a study of the “suitability and feasibility” of designating certain areas of prehistoric, historic, and natural significance on Rota as a unit of the National Park System, a necessary step before Congress decides to designate any area as a National Park. In my statement I reminded the Subcommittee that the bill had already passed the House of Representatives unanimously in the 111th Congress, but died without action by the Senate. And I submitted supporting statements from Rota Mayor Melchor A. Mendiola, Rep. Teresita A. Santos, and Senate President Paul A. Manglona, who wrote on behalf of the Rota Legislative Delegation that “[a]rchaeologists describe Rota as having the most intact and numerous historic sites of any island in the Mariana Archipelago.” The National Park Service also testified in favor of moving the Rota National Park to the next stage in the approval process.

President is listening on NMI immigration issues.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with President Obama at the White House Tuesday to discuss immigration. Though the discussion centered on national policy, I also had the opportunity to talk to the President about gaps in P.L. 110-229 that put Northern Marianas families at risk and threaten long-term residents, who were born in our islands or had permanent residence status under our Commonwealth law. The President agreed to have his White House staff get involved. Among those present in the State Dining Room at the White House were Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Director of the Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes, and Special Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Muñoz. Anytime the President and his people are thinking about your issues, you are closer to resolving those issues. So, Tuesday’s meeting was a positive step toward ending the uncertainties so that businesses can make investment decisions, families can get on with their lives, and the whole Commonwealth can start moving forward.

Gas price spikes need congressional oversight.

Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee are asking the Chairman for a hearing on the recent spike in gas prices. We want to make sure that the increases are solely the result of market forces, not speculative manipulation. The Agriculture Committee, where I am a member, has jurisdiction over the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and has held hearings on fuel prices in the past. In our letter we point out that nationally prices have jumped 25% and that summer could bring even higher prices. This is particularly hard on farmers and the transportation industry, but individual consumers—in the Northern Mariana Islands and all through our nation—are all feeling the pain of higher gas prices.

Submerged lands moving forward again.

At my request the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs will include H.R. 670, conveying three miles of submerged lands to the CNMI, on its hearing agenda for May 12th. In the last Congress, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the same bill, numbered H.R. 934, and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee favorably reported it to the full Senate. But Senator John McCain (R-AZ) blocked the bill from further action. Governor Fitial and the NMI Legislature , have expressed their support for giving the people of the Marianas the right to protect and benefit from the submerged lands and natural resources in waters around our islands, which my bill does. Fax your comments for inclusion in the May 12th hearing record to Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Ranking Member Edward Markey (D-MA) at 202-225-5929, or bring your statement to your congressional office on Saipan, Tinian, or Rota.

OPPORTUNITIES- Federal contracts, grants, and jobs for and in the Mariana Islands:

GRANTS:

  • Strengthen and Improve the National Environmental Public Health Capacity – The purpose of this program is to fund national public and private organizations to promote Environmental Public Health by educating decision-makers, key stakeholders, and the community. These organizations will provide technical assistance, resources and educational opportunities to federal, state and local level stakeholders and nontraditional partners. Letter of intent deadline is May 17, 2011; application deadline is June 16, 2011. For more information go to www.Grants.gov.

JOBS:

  • High Voltage Electrician – The Department of the Navy, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, is accepting applications for a High Voltage Electrician in Guam. Incumbent will repair and maintain high voltage generating, controlling, and distributing systems in powerhouses, substations, and power lines. Job position is open until May 9, 2011. For more information go to www.USAjobs.gov.

  • Deputy Public Works Officer – The Department of the Navy, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, is seeking applicants for a Deputy Public Works Officer in Guam. Incumbent serves as the principal civilian executive and advisor to the Public Works Officer and is responsible for the execution of public works efforts in support of the installation and supporting commander's mission and functions. Job position is open until May 10, 2011. For more information go to www.USAjobs.gov.

  • Lead Firefighter – The Department of the Navy, Naval Operations, is accepting applications for a Lead Firefighter in Guam. Incumbent is responsible for a major piece of firefighting equipment and its regular assigned crew of firefighters engaged in airfield and structural fire fighting and rescue operations. Job position is open until May 13, 2011. For more information go to www.USAjobs.gov.

  • Transportation Assistant (Fleet Management) – The Department of the Navy, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, is seeking applicants for a Transportation Assistant in Guam. Incumbent ensures operator maintenance is performed and vehicle malfunctions is reported accordingly, and takes appropriate measures to prevent misuse, abuse and damage to unit vehicles. Job position is open until May 13, 2011. For more information go to www.USAjobs.gov.

  • Archaeologist – The Department of the Navy, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, is seeking applicants for an archeologist in Guam. Incumbent provides technical services for archaeologically significant properties; reviews proposed Navy actions within the Marianas area for possible impacts to cultural resources, regulations and guidelines; and advises Navy personnel on cultural resources protections requirements. Closing date is May 13, 2011. For more information go to www.USAjobs.gov.

  • Supervisory Recreation Assistant – The Department of the Navy, Naval Operations, is accepting applications for a Supervisory Recreation Assistant in Guam. Incumbent manages all pool and beach programs under the outdoor recreation department, recruits instructors and lifeguards, and is responsible for facility upkeep and appearance. Closing date is May 16, 2011. For more information go to www.USAjobs.gov.

HIGHLIGHTS IN THE LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM

THIS WEEK

On the Floor

H.R. 1213 – To repeal mandatory funding provided to States in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to establish American Health Benefit Exchanges (Passed 238 - 183)

H.R. 1214 – To repeal mandatory funding for school-based health center construction (Passed 235 - 191 )

H.R. 3 – No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (Passed 251 - 175)

Co-sponsorships

H.R. 1681 – Every Child Deserves a Family Act

H.R. 1760 – To reauthorize the Great Ape Conservation Act, and for other purposes

H.R. 1761 – To reauthorize the Marine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004, and for other purposes

H.RES. 243 – Celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

NEXT WEEK

On the floor

H.R. 1231 – Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act

H.R. 754 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011

Committee Hearings

May 12

  • Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs legislative hearing on:

    H.R. 670 - To convey certain submerged lands to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in order to give that territory the same benefits in its submerged lands as Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa have in their submerged lands;

    H.R. 1670 - To amend the Sikes Act to improve the application of that Act to State-owned facilities used for the national defense. “Sikes Act Amendments Act”;

    H.R. 295 -To amend the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act of 1998;

    H.R. 991 - To amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972;

    H.R. 1160 - Directs the Secretary of the Interior to convey the McKinney Lake National Fish Hatchery in Richmond County, North Carolina

May 13

  • Committee on Natural Resources Oversight Hearing on American Energy Initiative: Identifying Roadblocks to Wind and Solar Energy on Public Lands and Waters