THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - September 07, 2018

Sep 11, 2018

In this issue:

Make a plan, Marianas

Help our vets get a health clinic

Taking care of military spouses

Water: we still have a way to go

Support grows for status bill

Respecting our Governor

In praise of pets

• Supporting small business

• Students: Take the App Challenge


Legislative Highlights


Make a Plan, Marianas

It has been two years since Typhoon Soudelor struck our islands; and the lessons learned can fade. So, let us all use September, National Disaster Preparedness Month, to make sure our families have an emergency plan and supplies in place so we are safe in the event of a disaster. This week’s theme is “Make and Practice Your Plan.” Helpful tips and resources for developing a plan that is right for your family can be found at the Department of Homeland Security’s official website,

Help our vets get a health clinic

The more veterans registered in the Marianas, the better the results of the feasibility study for a veterans clinic that I included in Section 213 of the VA MISSION Act, Public Law 115-182. So, your congressional office is continuing our Veteran Registration Drive this month. Wounded Warrior Fellow Randy Johnson and staff from the CNMI Office of Military and Veterans Affairs will be at Joeten Superstore on Saturday, September 15 and 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to register veterans for VA health and benefit services. If you are a veteran, the family member of a veteran, or a veteran’s friend, stop by to learn more about benefits available in the Marianas — and help us register our vets. Remember: the more veterans registered here, the better our chances to getting our own Community-Based Outpatient Clinic, staffed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Water: we still have a way to go

I have challenged an attempt by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deauthorize $20 million for Saipan water infrastructure, included in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act. Saipan is one of almost 200 projects the Corps wants deauthorized because Congress has never appropriated funding. In my view, the Army Corps did not follow the correct procedure with respect to the Saipan money; and it is better to keep the authorization on the books and available. In the meantime, the $73 million in Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Act funds I have brought in since 2010 have helped the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation reach the goal of providing 100 percent of Saipan customers with 24-hour water. CUC reported that achievement in federal court this week. Of course, that does not mean our work is done. CUC has also testified that water losses from the system are as high as 75 percent; and many households in our islands do not have connections to any public wastewater systems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency assessment of national water system needs, the Marianas still requires $198.4 million to provide service to households and protect our environment.

Support grows for status bill

More Members have signed on as co-sponsors for my bill to provide permanent status for long-term workers and investors in the Northern Marianas. The addition of Representatives Hank Johnson (D-Georgia), Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota), Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam) and Rick Nolan (D-Minnesota) raises the total of bipartisan cosponsors for the Northern Mariana Islands Workforce Stabilization Act, H.R. 6578, to 32. Granting improved status to long-term workers would relieve employers of the expense and anxiety of applying for CW permits. And improved status would finally give our long-term workers and the investors, who were granted admission under Commonwealth immigration law, the knowledge that they are permanent members of our community. On August 6, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce issued a letter supporting H.R. 6578. To date, however, neither the Governor nor the Legislature have given official support to my bill.

Respecting our Governor

Looking ahead to the next, 116th U.S. Congress — and a possible Democratic majority — your congressional office has proposed a change to the Rules of the House of Representatives to allow the Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands, and other insular area Governors, to be escorted to the floor, when we are in session. Currently, Rule IV, Clause 2 of the Rules only permits Governors of States to be admitted to the Hall of the House. I want to thank the other insular area delegates and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico for joining me in this request.



Public Comment:



On the Floor

·     H.R. 4606 – Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act (Passed, 260-146)

·     H.R. 6691 – Community Safety and Security Act of 2018 (Passed, 247-152)

·     H.R. 1635 – Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (Passed, 406-4)

·     H.R. 4969 – Embassy Design and Security Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2019 (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 5576 – Cyber Deterrence and Response Act of 2018 (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 5274 – Global Electoral Exchange Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 6439 – Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program Authorization Act of 2018 (Passed, 272-119)

·     H.R. 6459 – TSA OPEN for Business Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 6430 – Securing the Homeland Security Supply Chain Act of 2018 (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 6443 – Advancing Cybersecurity Diagnostics and Mitigation Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 5869 – Maritime Border Security Review Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 6374 – FIT Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 6438 – DHS Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems Coordinator Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 6447 – Department of Homeland Security Chief Data Officer Authorization Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 6265 – PreCheck is PreCheck Act of 2018 (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 6461 – TSA National Deployment Force Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     H.R. 6400 – United States Ports of Entry Threat and Operational Review Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

·     Concurring in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 4318 – Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

Legislation I Cosponsored

·     H.R. 6665 – Offshore Wind for Territories Act

·     H.R. 3034 – Justin Smith Morrill Congressional Gold Medal Act

·     H.R. 4107 – USS Indianapolis Congressional Gold Medal Act

·     H.R. 6510 – Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act


On the Floor

  • H.R. 3798 – Save American Workers Act of 2017

Committee Activity

Tuesday, September 11

  • Committee on Natural Resources Oversight Hearing titled “The Federal Columbia River Power System: The Economic Lifeblood & Way of Life for the Pacific Northwest”

Thursday, September 13

  • Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Legislative Hearing on H.R. 4985, “Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Settlement Act”