THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - Support for Workforce Act grows

Feb 5, 2018

In this Issue- Febaruary 2, 2018:


Hearing Tuesday for Workforce Act

The first hearing for the U.S. Workforce Act, which I introduced in the House and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) in the Senate on January 19, is set for Tuesday. I will be outlining the bill to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Senator Murkowski chairs. Interior Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech and Governor Ralph DLG Torres will testify. A second hearing is expected before the House Natural Resources Committee later this month. Tuesday’s hearing starts at 10 a.m. EST, 1 a.m. Wednesday morning in the Marianas. Night owls can watch live at the Committee website; and we will have the video on, the official Facebook page, and other social media soon after. The U.S. Workforce Act not only adds ten years to the current transition period, but also adds 8,000 CW permits for next year. The bill provides serious, new protections for our local workers and businesses, and gives hope to foreign workers who came to the Marianas years ago and helped develop our economy.

How to show your support

Thanks to the many government and business leaders and members of the public speaking up in support of my legislation, the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act. We still have a long road ahead to win passage in the House and the Senate and get the President to sign the bill into law. Your letters of support can make a difference in whether we are successful. Please write to the following committees of Congress, which have jurisdiction over the U.S. Workforce Act. Ask that they move quickly to pass our bill.

Chairman Lisa Murkowski and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
304 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

Chairman Rob Bishop and Ranking Member Raul Grijalva
House Committee on Natural Resources
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Be sure to send me a copy: or drop your letter at your Saipan, Tinian, or Rota congressional offices.

Protecting U.S. workers nationwide

In addition to protecting U.S. workers in the Marianas from unfair competition from foreign workers, we need to protect U.S. workers nationwide from the outsourcing of their jobs to countries with low wages and poor labor protections. This week, I joined 198 of my House colleagues in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expressing concern regarding Mexico’s labor policies. Lighthizer is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada. Mexico has a history of keeping wages low and suppressing workers’ voices. This allows Mexico to compete unfairly with us and costs Americans jobs and better wages. We must ensure that our national policies do not come at a cost to American workers.

This is no way to run a government

The Republican majority in Congress remains unable to fund the government on a rational basis. On February 8 we will have to pass another stop-gap funding bill—the fifth this year—or face another government shutdown. Democrats want an appropriation to cover the rest of fiscal year 2018 with funding for national priorities both parties agree on. We outlined those funding priorities in a January 18 letter to President Trump, including:

  • The opioid epidemic.
  • Services for veterans.
  • Community Health Centers.
  • Disaster recovery for Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Texas, Florida, and states impacted by wildfires.

Insular areas? Schools? Trump silent

Rebuilding America’s infrastructure was a central proposal in President Trump’s first State of the Union Address on Tuesday. We all agree there is work to do. My first question is whether the U.S. insular areas will be given the special assistance we need, because of our limited financial resources and relative lack of development compared to the rest of America. I also hope that the President will not forget to invest in schools nationwide. He only mentioned “gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.” Those projects are important. But the real key to America’s economic success—and the Marianas’—is an educated population. In January, along with 153 Democratic colleagues, I sent a letter to the President asking him to invest $100 billion for the rebuilding of our public schools in any comprehensive infrastructure improvement plan so states—and the insular areas—can update our facilities. Our children will learn best in schools that are safe, well-lit and comfortable, and have the supplies and technology they and their teachers need.




Public Comments

Legislative Highlights



On the Floor

  • House Amendment to Senate Amendments to H.R. 695 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018 (Passed,  250-166)
  • S. 534 – Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 (Passed, 406-3)
  • H.R. 1457 –MOBILE Act of 2017 (Passed, 397-8)
  • H.R. 1426 – Federal Savings Association Charter Flexibility Act of 2017 (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 2255 – HOME Act (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 4292 – Financial Institution Living Will Improvement Act of 2017 (Passed, 414-0)
  • H.R. 4792 – Small Business Access to Capital After a Natural Disaster (Agreed to by voice vote)


On the Floor

  • H.R. 772 – Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017
  • H.R. 1153 – Mortgage Choice Act of 2017
  • H.R. 4771 – Small Bank Holding Company Relief Act of 2018
  • H.R. 4547 – Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018
  • H.R. 3851 – War Crimes Rewards Expansion Act

Committee Activity

Tuesday, February 6

  • Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Legislative Hearing on S. 2325, the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act
  • House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Oversight Hearing on "VA Caregiver Support Program: Correcting Course for Veteran Caregivers"
  • Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Legislative Hearing on H.R. 231, Canyon Village Land Conveyance Act and H.R. 4032, Gila River Indian Community Federal Rights-of-Way, Easements and Boundary Clarification Act