THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - November 19, 2021

Nov 22, 2021


Build Back Better passes House, would help the Marianas for years to come

Coming on top of over $2 billion in federal aid to the Marianas in the last three years, the Build Back Better Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives today, could continue to transform the lives of our people for years to come. H.R. 5376 increases base funding for Medicaid to $70 million, more than ever before, and permanently lowers the local match to 11 percent, a rate better than any state. The Build Back Better Act extends the Child Tax Credit that has already provided $28.7 million up front to Marianas families this year. And Build Back Better funds pre-Kindergarten education here in the Marianas, has more money for Head Start, and will help working parents with child care. As Chairman of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee, these are all changes I have been pushing for. Build Back Better has $1 billion for critical infrastructure in the Marianas and the other insular areas. That is on top of the $100 million for the Marianas in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act the President signed a week ago. And the Act contains a number of bills I wrote:

The bill now moves to a closely divided Senate, where it can be amended, and may come back to the House for final approval. No Republicans voted for the Build Back Better Act in the House; none are expected in the Senate.

Insular vets advisory bill passes 

Marianas veterans and their comrades from the other U.S. insular areas and the Freely Associated States would have an official advisory board within the Department of Veterans Affairs under my legislation that passed the House on Thursday. H.R. 3730 requires establishment of a board with representatives from the Marianas, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Freely Associated to advise the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on how to better serve veterans in the insular areas. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

$183k for NMC Yutu damage 

Northern Marianas College will be able to replace grounds and maintenance equipment damaged by Super Typhoon Yutu with $183,300 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Community Facilities Grant will pay for a pick-up truck, utility trailers, a forklift, and an articulating boom lift. The Agriculture Department announced the funding for the Marianas and 535 other projects nationwide Friday. This Community Facilities grant is competitive and intended to help develop essential community facilities in rural areas. Congratulations, NMC!

Are schools using relief funds well?

The Marianas Public School System and Northern Marianas College are using over $275 million received from the CARES Act, the FY21 Consolidated Appropriations Act, and the American Rescue Plan Act to help students stay healthy in school, make up for learning losses that occurred during the pandemic, and pay teachers and staff salaries. To see that the U.S. Department of Education is ensuring schools nationwide are using these federal funds, as Congress intended, I held a joint hearing of my Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee and the Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee on Wednesday. Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten and Under Secretary James Kvaal testified on how the Department is keeping tabs on the relief funds and sharing best practices on use with schools. Our committees will continue checking in with the Department to make sure Congress’s historic investment in our students remains on track. Watch the hearing here.

Funding for 8 police officers 

The Northern Mariana Islands Department of Public Safety is receiving $672,727 through the U.S. Department of Justice COPS program, enough to hire—or rehire—eight police officers. The Justice Department announced the funding for the Marianas and 182 other law enforcement agencies nationwide on Thursday. This Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant is competitive and intended to reduce crime and advance public safety. Congratulations, DPS!

Apprenticeships for Marianas youth

House passage of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020, H.R. 8294, on Friday  brings a registered apprenticeship system in the Marianas one step closer. The Act incorporates my bill, H.R. 8320, the Outlying Area Apprentice Expansion Act, which invests $2.8 million over five years to set up registered apprenticeships in the Marianas.

NMC receives $289,000 to serve AAPI students

Northern Marianas College will receive $289,090 under the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving Institutions Program, the U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday.

Congress locks in $13.148 million for NMI food stamp

Tucked into the FY12 spending bill the President signed recently is a line item for $13.148 million in food stamp funding for the Northern Mariana Islands.  The appropriation, H.R. 2112, makes mandatory what had been a discretionary addition of $1 million by Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack to NMI food stamp funding.



Public Comments:


  • H.R. 3730 - To establish VA Advisory Committee on US Outlying Areas, FAS (passed, 420-4)
  • H.R. 5376 - Build Back Better Act (passed, 220-213)
  • H.R. 4591 - VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act (passed by voice vote)
  • H.R. 2433 - Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act (passed by voice vote)
  • S. 894 - Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act (passed by voice vote)
  • S. 796 - Protecting Moms Who Served Act (passed, 414-9)


The House is in recess for the District Work Period