THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - November 01, 2019

Nov 4, 2019

In this issue:

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In-state tuition approved

After a three-day markup session, the Education and Labor Committee passed the College Affordability Act, including my grant program for Northern Marianas College graduates. The grant, up to $15,000, is intended to cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for NMC grads going on to a four-year, public college or university nationwide. Also incorporated in the bill are my legislation making NMC and PSS eligible for new federal funding to support the Chamorro and Refaluwasch languages and STEM education as well as my bill to drastically shorten and simplify the FAFSA. The Marianas would also receive $2.1 million over six years for career training in high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand industries. The House is expected to act on the College Affordability Act before the end of the year.

Addressing the nursing shortage 

The House passed H.R. 728, the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 728 which would help address the nursing shortage experienced throughout the country, especially in the Northern Marianas. As of July 2019, The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation employs 146 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, 20 less than they should have. Title VIII programs such as the Nurse Corps Scholarship and Loan Repayment Program, are designed to improve healthcare access in designated medically underserved areas like the Marianas. Bolstering nursing education at all levels and providing direct support to institutions that educate nurses for practice in rural and underserved communities is just what is needed.

Medicare Open Enrollment tips

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services published a podcast episode titled “Medicare Open Enrollment / What You Need to Know.” This episode features Kim Brandt, Principal Deputy Administrator for Operations at CMS. Brandt outlines key information about this year’s open enrollment season, highlights major upgrades to the Medicare Plan Finder, and shares important fraud prevention tips that people should be aware of. Medicare open enrollment is from October 15, 2019-December 7, 2019. Changes made to plans during this period will take place on January 1, 2020. You can listen to the podcast here

Support for Marianas exports ok’d

The House Financial Services Committee passed legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank for the next decade, including a bill I cosponsored creating a dedicated office to support exporters from the Marianas and other U.S. territories. The bill creates the Office of Territorial Exporting within the Bank to promote goods and services from the territories, conduct outreach, education, and to increase the total amount of loans, guarantees, and insurance provided by the Bank benefiting the Marianas and other U.S. territories. The Export-Import Bank’s authorization expires on November 21, 2019. 

An ocean of plastic waste

Actor and ocean conservation advocate Ted Danson was among the witnesses at a Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife hearing Tuesday to discuss the growing problem of plastic pollution on our planet’s oceans. I spoke about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a large collection of plastic and floating trash in the Northern Pacific, with Mr. Danson and the expert witnesses. I also pointed out that plastic garbage is also continually found in our uninhabited northern conservation islands. No one disputes the importance of plastic. It’s durable, versatile, efficient, convenient, and cheap – and has led to great strides in medicine, manufacturing, and technology. But with its wide use and ultra slow decomposition rate, plastics present a significant threat to our oceans and marine wildlife. Over eight million tons of plastic winds up in the world’s oceans each year. Until industry develops practical alternatives, we must all try to limit our plastic use and explore viable solutions to decrease plastic pollution.

OPPORTUNITIES

Grants

Jobs

LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

THIS WEEK

  • H.R. 1306 - Federal Disaster Assistance Coordination Act, as amended (Passed by voice vote)
  • H.R. 2781 – EMPOWER Health Act of 2019 (Passed by voice vote)
  • H.R. 4334 – Dignity in Aging Act, as amended (Passed by voice vote)

NEXT WEEK

The House is in recess for the District Work Period.