THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - October 16, 2015

Oct 18, 2015

In this issue:

______________________________________________________________

Air Force wants comment on new divert proposals.

Because of public comment on its original proposal for using Saipan for a backup airfield, the U.S. Air Force today released a revised draft environmental impact statement with three new alternatives. All three scale down development and remove any fighter aircraft operations. As in the original 2012 draft EIS, the revision includes Saipan-only and Tinian-only alternatives. There is now, also, a “hybrid” alternative dividing activities between the two islands. The Air Force’s goal is to have backup capacity in the Marianas region in the event its planes cannot use Anderson Air Force Base on Guam because of a natural disaster or military attack. On Wednesday, November 4, the Air Force will host an open house meeting on the revised draft EIS at Northern Marianas College, Building D-1, from 5 to 8 p.m. On Thursday, November 5, there will be an open house at Tinian Elementary School Cafeteria from 6 to 8 p.m. Public comment can be submitted at these meetings or online at https://pacafdivertmarianaseis.com/comment-form.html. All comments must be received by December 1, 2015 (ChST).

No COLA for Social Security benefits in 2016

As in 2010 and 2011, there will be no cost of living adjustment, or COLA, in 2016 for seniors and those receiving Supplemental Security Income. Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin wrote to me this week, officially informing me of the decision. Social Security is keeping the benefit unchanged nationwide because there has been no increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. I do not think that this CPI-W is a good basis for the COLA decision. Seniors on Social Security often spend more on medication and food than younger consumers do. That is why I have cosponsored H.R. 3351, the CPI-E Act of 2015, that would calculate the annual cost of living adjustment based on what seniors really spend. Social Security and SSI bring $28 million into the Northern Marianas economy each year and help some 3,600 seniors, disabled, and their families make ends meet.

Typhoon Soudelor Update - Week 11.

Although Tropical Storm Champi dumped heavy rains and caused flooding overnight, shut down power on Saipan and Tinian, and sent hundreds to local shelters, the storm is now tracking westward and away from our islands. We can feel some relief that Champi did not set us too far back from the on-going recovery from Typhoon Soudelor.

Electrical restoration continues.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency it has completed retrieving electrical transformers damaged by the typhoon. About half of the 659 transformers have been emptied of oil, which will be shipped off island for recycling. The transformer carcasses are also being loaded into containers and shipped to the U.S. Mainland. To replace the damaged equipment, the Federal Emergency Management Agency contracted with Solomon Corporation of Kansas to produce 486 transformers, the largest order in that company’s history, and will fly the replacements to Saipan.

99 percent receiving some water.

Also, according to EPA, 110 water wells are now in operation and water service has been restored—at least intermittently—to 99 percent of Saipan's population. Fifteen water tanks are being chlorinated, so that the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation no longer is advising the public to boil and disinfect the water. Aqua Resort, Coral Ocean Point Resort, and Lau Lau Bay Golf Resort continue to operate distribution points for drinking water.

Rebuild workshops moving to Chalan Kiya.

Specialists from the FEMA have been at Ace Hardware in Susupe, talking with customers and handing out free information on how to rebuild better and stronger. After Sunday, October 18, the FEMA experts move to Do-It-Best Hardware in Chalan Kiya for two weeks. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

History of delegates, resident commissioners featured.

This week’s Edition for Educators on the House of Representatives official history website features Statutory Representatives, the Delegates and Resident Commissioners from U.S. territories whose positions were created by law rather than by the U.S. Constitution. Even before the Constitution was adopted, the Continental Congress, operating under the Articles of Confederation, adopted the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 that entitled a Delegate from today’s Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota to a seat in Congress. 175 people have since served in this capacity, representing areas that became states, independent nations, or remain Commonwealths and territories today. One, William Henry Harrison, became the ninth President of the United States. Another, Manuel Quezon, became the second President of the Philippines. Today, there are five Delegates and one Resident Commissioner, representing some five million Americans. The most recently created position is the Delegate for the Northern Mariana Islands. In addition to the history.house.gov website you can find more information about the history and status of Delegates in this report by the Congressional Research Service.

OPPORTUNITIES – Federal contracts, grants, jobs for/in the Marianas:

Grants:

  • Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities - Preparation of Special Education, Early Intervention, and Related Services Leadership Personnel (OSERS-OSEP) - The purposes of this program are to (1) help address State-identified needs for personnel preparation in special education, early intervention, related services, and regular education to work with children, including infants and toddlers, with disabilities; and (2) ensure that those personnel have the necessary skills and knowledge, derived from practices that have been determined through scientifically based research and experience, to be successful in serving those children. Current closing date is October 9, 2015. For more information, go to https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=279587.
  • Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program - The Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) Program is a voluntary, incentive-based program that provides direct technical assistance and financial assistance in the form of cooperative agreements to private landowners to restore and conserve fish and wildlife habitat for the benefit of federal trust resources. Current closing date isSeptember 30, 2016. For more information, go to https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=279631.
Highlights in the Legislative Program

THIS WEEK:

The House is in recess for the District Work Period.

Co-sponsorships

  • H.R. 1217 – Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015  

NEXT WEEK:

On the floor

  • H.R. 1428 – Judicial Redress Act of 2015
  • H.R. 3350 – Know the CBRN Terrorism Threats to Transportation Act
  • H.R. 1315 – To amend section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code, to require that annual budget submissions of the President to Congress provide an estimate of the cost per taxpayer of the deficit, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 692 – Default Prevention Act
  • H.R. 10 – SOAR Reauthorization Act
  • H.R. 1937 – National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2015 

Committee hearings

October 22

  • Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans Hearing on H.R. 3094, To Amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to transfer to States the authority to manage red snapper fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico 
-----------------------------------------------------