THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - September 17, 2021

Sep 19, 2021

________________________________________________________________

No Medicaid “cliff” for Marianas

Federal Medicaid for the Marianas will be $64,010,000 for fiscal year 2022. The Biden administration alerted me on Thursday that rather than losing Medicaid funding on October 1, the Commonwealth will actually be eligible for more money in fiscal 2022 than we received this year. This is very good news and I thank President Biden and my former House colleague Xavier Becerra, now the Secretary of Health and Human Services, for reaching this conclusion. I worked with the White House to get the President to include Medicaid parity for the insular areas in his FY22 budget. He agreed; and this week’s decision follows through on that commitment. The decision is based on U.S. Public Law 116-94, which we passed in 2019, when extra Medicaid money from Obamacare expired. Also important, USPL 116-94 will allow future years’ funding to increase by an inflation factor based on $64 million, eliminating future cliffs. This is not a complete lifting of the Medicaid cap, as called for in my legislation, H.R. 265; but because the Commonwealth has not used all of the $62 million available this year, according to the Biden administration, increasing the cap to $64 million should fully protect the 38,000 people in the Marianas currently using Medicaid for their health care.

$18B in spending for veterans

The Veterans’ Affairs Committee completed its portion of the reconciliation budget plan for Fiscal Year 2022, S. Con. Res.14. $18 billion is provided to invest in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ aging infrastructure, its workforce, and the support structures that serve veterans. The legislation directs VA to take into consideration the needs of underserved areas and veteran populations. I used the opportunity to remind everyone that the Marianas remains the only U.S. jurisdiction without a VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic or Vet Center. All Republicans voted against the legislation, which now goes to the Budget Committee for consideration. Read more about the plan here.

More money for water, clean energy 

The Agriculture Committee completed its portion of the reconciliation budget plan for Fiscal Year 2022, S. Con. Res.14, including funds the Marianas can use for clean water, clean energy, and farm research. There is $18 billion in the legislation to ensure insular areas, tribal and rural communities have access to clean water and reliable and efficient renewable energy. $430 million is dedicated for rural water and wastewater grants for high poverty areas including the Marianas. And $1 billion is available to Northern Marianas College and the other Minority Serving Institutions nationwide to develop a diverse pipeline of agriculture researchers. All Republicans voted against the legislation, which now goes to the Budget Committee for consideration. Read more about the plan here.

NMI Biz Development Act passes

Businesses in the Marianas will have more access to Small Business Administration programs under terms of my Small Business Development Act, which the House passed.

House holds hearing on CW issue

The issue of foreign workers in the Northern Mariana Islands was front and center at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs held at my request.

Senate appropriators want USDA to plan for national food stamp program in the NMI

The Senate Appropriations Committee reported out its Fiscal 2012 spending bill for the Department of Agriculture. At my request the Committee report acknowledges that the Secretary of Agriculture has the statutory authority to extend the national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to the Northern Marianas.

Grants:

Jobs:

Public Comments:

THIS WEEK

The House was in recess for the Committee Work Week.

NEXT WEEK

  • S. 189 - Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act
  • H.R. 4350 - National Defense Authorization Act for FY22
  • H.R. 3755 - Women's Health Protection Act