THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - May 6, 2022

May 8, 2022

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Head Start sign up eased

Enrolling their young children in Head Start just got easier for Marianas families receiving Nutrition Assistance Program food aid. Your congressional office worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Head Start, to confirm the categorical eligibility for the children of families that participate in the national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, will also apply to Marianas NAP families. Categorical eligibility means less paperwork for the family to qualify their children aged four and under for Head Start. Head Start and Early Head Start are federally funded programs for pre-schoolers and infants that provide developmentally appropriate learning, family engagement, nutritious meals, health services, and support for children with special needs. Head Start serves preschool children ages three to four-years-old on Tinian, Rota, and Saipan. Early Head Start serves infants and toddlers aged six weeks to 36 months on Saipan. Applications for the 2022-2023 school year are due June 10, 2022. For information about the application and eligibility process, call (670) 664-3761/323-7446/323-7447 or email hsehs@cnmipss.org.

Hirono intros VA insular advisors bill

Legislation creating an advisory board in the Department of Veterans Affairs for veterans from the U.S. insular areas and the Freely Associated States now has a Senate sponsor. U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced a companion bill to my legislation creating the insular advisory board on Wednesday. Our bill, S. 4141 in the Senate and H.R. 3730 in the House, will give veterans from the Marianas, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the FAS nations a platform to advise the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on how to better serve their areas. Both Senator Hirono and I serve on our respective Veterans Affairs committees. Thank you, Senator, for your partnership on this legislation.

540-day extension for EADs

Employment authorization extensions of 540 days are being given automatically to persons with pending renewal applications (I-765), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Tuesday. Marianas residents, who have Permanent Resident (Green Card) applications under the C09 category, citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia under the A8 category, and individuals with Temporary Protected Status under categories A12 or C19 all qualify for the automatic extension. USCIS made this decision to give itself more time to deal with a backlog of applications that built up during the pandemic. Normally, eligible EAD holders are provided 180 days of additional employment authorization while their petition is pending. Applicants who qualify for the new, longer extension will have filed an I-765 filed before expiration and will have an eligible category listed on their I-797 receipt notice. This extension also covers eligible applicants whose expiration date has passed or whose 180-day extension expired before May 4, 2022. For more information, click here.

$660k tagged for Marianas fisheries

Three Marianas proposals, totaling $660,031, have been recommended for a 2022 Saltonstall-Kennedy Competitive Grant, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday. The projects are: 

  • $161,000 for the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance to optimize economic benefits for Pacific communities by enhancing artisanal pelagic fishing through Smart-aFAD networks,
  • $229,702 for the Pacific Islands Fisheries Group to develop a Mariana Islands Ika and Monchong Fishery, and
  • $269,329 to the University of Hawaii for a collaborative community assessment for sustainable management of the coral reef fishery in the Northern Marianas.

Nationwide, only 44 projects were recommended out of 270 submitted. Final approval of the recommended proposals is contingent on review by the NOAA Grants Management Division and the Department of Commerce Financial Assistance Law Division. Congress appropriates about $10 million annually for the Saltonstall-Kennedy program to address the needs of fishing communities, support economic opportunities, and build and maintain resilient and sustainable fisheries.

$433k for historic preservation

The Historic Preservation Office of the Commonwealth’s Department of Community and Cultural Affairs is receiving $432,577 in FY 2022 historic preservation grants, the National Park Service announced Thursday. Grant funds will be used to support a variety of historic preservation and community projects focused on heritage preservation. Funds could also support technical assistance to private and public interests that seek to preserve and protect historic resources in the Marianas. Appropriated by Congress, Historic Preservation Fund grants are administered by the National Park Service and awarded annually to states, territories, and tribes for the identification and protection of historic properties and supporting activities. Congratulations to HPO.

File taxes for child tax credit

Families with children, including those who don’t normally file or have earnings to report, should file their taxes by May 17 to ensure eligibility for the advanced monthly child tax payments. At my request, the American Rescue Plan included the authority for the Governor to issue advance monthly Child Tax Credit payments and $300,000 to cover administrative costs.

Students win in FY17 spending act

The House of Representatives approved on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday H.R. 244, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017. Northern Marianas schools will receive an extra $4 million in new money in school year 2017-18, as a result of the funding formula change I included in the Every Student Succeeds Act in the last Congress.

Manta Rays return to We the People National Finals

Congratulations to Saipan Southern High School’s We the People team.  This highly talented group of students returned to Washington, DC as repeat regional champions to represent the Northern Mariana Islands and compete in the 25th Anniversary of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution National Finals.

Grants:

Jobs/Internships:

Public Comments:

THIS WEEK

The House is in recess for the District Work Period.

NEXT WEEK

  • H.R. 903 – Rights for the TSA Workforce Act of 2022
  • H.R. 2499 – Federal Firefighters Fairness Act of 2022
  • H.R. 5129 – Community Services Block Grant Modernization Act of 2022