THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - September 13, 2019

Sep 16, 2019

Tinian gets federal health center

Helping students struck by trauma

Status ahead for long-term workers

Modernizing SSI

 • $1M for Maternal and Child Health

 • Calling young coders

More funding needed to support NMC students

Help for victims of college scams

Opposing new public charge rule

Addressing primary care doctor needs

September is National Preparedness Month

Veterans benefits counselor - Sept. 24

Opportunities

Legislative highlights

Tinian gets federal health center

The people of Tinian will have their own federally-qualified community health center within the next four months. The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration announced the award of $650,000 on Wednesday to Kagman Community Health Center to open a new service delivery site on Tinian. Federally-funded health centers are intended to bring affordable preventive and primary care to underserved communities. The Kagman Health Center, opened in 2012, has proven the effectiveness of that concept. And this January, the Kagman Board of Directors applied for funding to expand to Tinian. The new health center will be located in San Jose village in walking distance for 65 percent of residents. Plans are for one full-time care provider, one nurse, one community health worker, and one administrator. Other business and support services will be handled by existing Kagman staff. The Tinian Community Health Center is expected to care for 900 patients by the time it reaches full capacity in its second year of operation. Future funding for community health centers is now under consideration in Congress. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has recommended passage of a four-year extension of funding for centers nationwide. The House is expected to take up the bill, H.R. 2328, in the next few weeks. Congratulations to the Kagman Board of Directors and staff for this important initiative.

Helping students struck by trauma

Whether a natural disaster, like Super Typhoon Yutu, or an act of gun violence that has become all too common in our nation, traumatic experiences reduce the ability of children to learn. That is why I held a hearing as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education on Tuesday to hear from national experts on what the federal government can do to help students recover from these traumas and get back to learning. Witnesses testified on how to equip teachers and other school employees in trauma-informed care practices. And to hear from students themselves I entered in the hearing record a letter to the editor from Hopwood 8th grader Emma Chong. She described conditions for the 950 Hopwood students who lost their campus in Yutu and are starting the new school year in FEMA-built tents. Watch the hearing here.

Status ahead for long-term workers

Action is scheduled in the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday for H.R. 560, my bill providing permanent status in the Marianas for long-term workers and investors. There are about 2,875 workers and 56 investors, according to testimony from the Government Accountability Office at the hearing I held on my bill in February. Originally, H.R. 560 also covered immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and other groups, who had been granted humanitarian parole by the Obama administration. The Trump administration ended that program last year, but I was able to get separate legislation enacted in June giving the 1,039 parolees permanent status. Now I want to do the same for long-term workers and for investors, who originally came in under Marianas immigration law. Giving these workers permanent status will help to stabilize the labor situation in the Marianas. And permanent status for investors will encourage them to keep their businesses in our islands.

Modernizing SSI

Unique among insular areas, the people of the Marianas are eligible for Supplemental Security Income. About 1,000 disabled and elderly in our islands receive on average almost $7,000 annually. But with household incomes stagnant and costs rising, SSI needs modernization. So, I am now a cosponsor of the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2019. H.R. 4280 would simplify the process for claiming SSI benefits, make more people eligible by raising income limits, and eliminate reductions in benefits for those who go to work despite their disabilities.

$1M for Maternal and Child Health

Pregnant women and parents with young children in the Marianas will continue to receive home visits from nurses, social workers, and early childhood educators as a result of a $1 million federal grant to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation this week. The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program has been shown to promote maternal and child health, child development, and positive parenting while preventing child abuse and neglect. Congratulations to CHCC.


 
 

More funding needed to support NMC students

On Thursday, the Education and Labor Committee released a report highlighting the need for greater federal investment in colleges like NMC with high numbers of minority students. Despite serving students who already face significant barriers in higher education, minority-serving institutions nationally continue to receive inadequate funding. The report supports the intent of my NMI College Access Act and recommends Congress better support students at schools like NMC by providing tuition assistance grants to enable more students to pursue and complete degrees. Legislation is also recommended to create an innovation grant program for schools like NMC to reduce educational costs, improve student achievement, and enhance employment outcomes as called for by the Aim Higher Act I cosponsored.

Help for victims of college scams

Without a four-year college in the Marianas, those who want a degree often turn to online schools, where they can be at risk of being defrauded and use up their limited Pell grant tuition aid. The Pell Grant Restoration Act addresses that problem by giving a second chance for Pell grants to students who are the victims of institutional fraud or misconduct or school closure. I am an original cosponsor of the bill, introduced Wednesday.

Opposing new public charge rule

The Trump Administration’s final rule changing public charge standards has the potential to hurt Asian, Pacific Islander, and other minority communities disproportionately by making it harder to enter the U.S. or get citizenship. That is why I joined my colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus on an amicus brief opposing the new rule. The rule expands the definition of public charge to include healthcare, nutrition, and housing assistance and covers people who use those services even for a short time. The changes are expected to impact more than a million Asian and Pacific Islanders, including those with CW-1 and E2-CNMI visas. The rule takes effect October 15, 2019.

Addressing primary care doctor needs

I wrote a bipartisan letter with Reps. Trahan (D-MA) and LaMalfa (R-CA) to Energy and Commerce Chairman Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Walden (R-OR) to urge them to consider increasing the amount of funding available to the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program. The Marianas is a designated Medically Underserved Area and the THCGME program provides funding to train more than 700 medical residents that go on to become primary care physicians in underserved communities.

OPPORTUNITIES

Grants:

LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

THIS WEEK

  • H.R. 1941 – Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act (Passed, 238-189)
  • H.R. 1146 – Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act (Passed, 225-193)
  • H.R. 205 – Protecting and Securing Florida's Coastline Act of 2019 (Passed, 248-180)

NEXT WEEK

Committee Activity

Wednesday, September 18

  • Committee on Natural Resources will hold a markup on several pending legislation
  • Committee on Veterans Affairs will hold an Oversight Hearing titled, "Critical Impact: How Barriers to Hiring at VA Affect Patient Care and Access"

Thursday, September 19

  • Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment will hold a hearing titled, "Broken Promises: Examining the Failed Implementation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program."
  • Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs will hold a hearing titled, “Update on VA Contracted Exams, Quality Review Process, and Service to Rural Veterans.”