THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - September 8, 2017

Sep 10, 2017

In this issue: 

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Disaster aid, 90-day spending bill passes

On Friday, the House sent $15.25 billion in disaster aid for communities hit by recent hurricanes to President Trump for signature into law. Ninety Republicans voted no. The legislative package, negotiated earlier in the week by Democratic leadership and the President, also funds the government for 90 days and avoids a government default by lifting the debt limit. This Continuing Resolution holds spending at the current, fiscal 2017 levels. So, at least temporarily, the cuts proposed by President Trump to education, environmental programs, the arts, and other key government services have been avoided. 

Praying for those hit by hurricanes

With our own memories of Typhoon Soudelor still fresh, our prayers go out to our fellow Americans beginning the recovery from Hurricane Harvey, and for the people of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Caribbean nations hit by Hurricane Irma and those in Florida and up the Atlantic coast still in Irma’s path. The $15.25 billion disaster aid approved by Congress this week includes essential funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and for Community Development Block Grants and Small Business Administration disaster loans – federal aid that helped the Marianas recover from Soudelor. The legislation also extends the National Flood Insurance Flood Program. According to FEMA, people who want to support relief efforts can visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website, www.nvoad.org, to make donations or volunteer their time.

Service Academy Nights scheduled

There are four slots open for the Northern Marianas for the school year beginning in the fall of 2018: two at West Point, one at Annapolis, and one at the Merchant Marine Academy in New York. To find out more about the requirements for a congressional nomination, attend a Service Academy Night on Rota, Tinian, or Saipan this month. Your congressional staff will be there to answer any questions you may have. When I first came to Congress, the Marianas could only have one person appointed at each of the defense academies. But with the passage of U.S. Public Law 111-84 in 2009 and U.S. Public Law 114-92 in 2015, I was able to increase available positions to two and then three at the Air Force, Military, and Naval academies. 

Watching North Korea

The shock of knowing the Marianas is in range of North Korean missiles may be wearing off, but the threat is not going away. So, I regularly attend the classified briefings for Members of Congress on the North’s development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. The briefings – with Defense Secretary Mattis, Secretary of State Tillerson, or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Gunderson – give me the opportunity to advocate for a strong U.S. defense network in the Western Pacific. I can share with you that there is a multi-layered system of defense in place to protect us. But no defense can be perfect. For that reason, I am also an advocate for greater diplomacy among all parties in our region. I have been selected to be part of a congressional delegation that will be meeting with government officials in the People’s Republic of China next week. We will discuss North Korea, as well as other regional security issues, including the Chinese build-up in the South China Sea. We will also be visiting Alibaba and other rising Chinese companies that are looking for investment opportunities in the United States and will be an important part of the economy of the future. 

$1 million for BECQ

The Commonwealth Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality will receive annual federal funding of $1.015 million for the agency’s coastal management program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today. The money pays salaries at BECQ, so the Commonwealth can better address coastal issues including coastal hazards, coastal community development, public access, and shoreline management, all consistent with its federally approved coastal management plan. I am continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress, who also represent coastal areas, to block the cuts that President Trump has proposed to coastal zone programs, which are more important than ever as the Marianas faces more and more development activity.

$2.6m for Tinian, Saipan airports

Congratulations to the Commonwealth Ports Authority, which is receiving $2,641,956 to improve firefighting and rescue capabilities on Tinian and Saipan. Tinian International Airport is getting $1,951,956 to fund the construction phase of improvements to the existing aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) building. The project will upgrade the ARFF vehicle water refill system to help the Tinian airport meet federal safety standards. A $690,000 grant going to the Francisco C. Ada International Airport on Saipan will be used for the purchase of a new ARFF vehicle, also to assist the airport in meeting federal safety requirements. As a tourism-based economy, the Northern Marianas must have first-rate airports that visitors can rely on for comfort and safety. This week’s investment of federal funds helps ensure that tourists and residents alike are well protected in the event of any accident at our airports.

Domestic Violence Coalition gets $239k

The Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence has been awarded $239,136 from the U.S. Department of Justice. The grant helps the Coalition and similar organizations around the country coordinate the various services available to victims of family violence, including rape and domestic violence crisis centers, shelters, counseling and intervention services. The Coalition also acts as an advocate to end violence against women and sponsors activities such as an annual march, which I attend, to raise awareness of the problem of family violence.

OPPORTUNITIES 

Jobs

LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS 

THIS WEEK

On the Floor

  • H.R. 3354 – “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018” (Consideration to continue next week)
  • Concurring in Senate Amendment to H.R. 601 – READ Act [Hurricane Supplemental, Debt Limit, Continuing Appropriations, and Flood Insurance Package] (Passed, 316-90)
  • H.R.1843 – Restraining Excessive Seizure of Property through the Exploitation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Tools Act (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R.3110 – Financial Stability Oversight Council Insurance Member Continuity Act (Passed, 407-1)
  • H.R.2864 – Improving Access to Capital Act (Passed, 403-3)
  • H.R.3388 – SELF DRIVE Act (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • S. 1616 – Bob Dole Congressional Gold Medal Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

Legislation I Cosponsored

  • H.R.3591 – American Hope Act of 2017
  • H.R.3440 – Dream Act of 2017
  • H.R.1251 – CPI-E Act of 2017
  • H.R.2855 – Social Security for Future Generations Act of 2017
  • H.R.3031 – TSP Modernization Act of 2017
  • H.Res.505 – Condemning North Korea's threats against our citizens on Guam, reaffirming our unshakable commitment to the security of Guam, and for other purposes.

NEXT WEEK

On the Floor

  • Continue consideration of H.R. 3354 – “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018”
  • H.R. 3284 – Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop Series Act of 2017, as amended
  • H.R. 2453 – DHS Intelligence Rotational Assignment Program Act of 2017
  • H.R. 2427 – Pathways to Improving Homeland Security at the Local Level Act, as amended
  • H.R. 2470 – Homeland Threat Assessment Act
  • H.R. 2468 – Unifying DHS Intelligence Enterprise Act, as amended
  • H.R. 2433 – Homeland Security Assessment of Terrorists Use of Virtual Currencies Act
  • H.R. 2442 – FIRST State and Local Law Enforcement Act, as amended
  • H.R. 2471 – TRACER Act, as amended
  • H.R. 931 – Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017, as amended

Committee Hearings

Tuesday, September 12

  • Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing on "VA Mail Management: The Case of the $11,257 Package"

Wednesday, September 13

  • Natural Resources Full Committee Markup
  • Subcommittee on Workforce Protections and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Joint Hearing on H.R. 3441, Save Local Business Act
  • Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Legislative Hearing on “H.R. 1721; H.R. 1900; H.R. 3122; H.R. 3656; H.R. 3657; and, a draft bill entitled “Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act of 2017”