Gov. Benigno R. Fitial is still pushing to garner support from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in an effort to take legislative action that would include the CNMI as an eligible site for the operation of a shipyard facility that would be able to service and repair U.S. flagship vessels.
Similar to the facility in Guam, a shipyard in the Northern Marianas would give ships operating in and around region a ship repair facility with full dry dock and overhaul capabilities in the Western Pacific.
While the CNMI has long been economically challenged by the lack of viable industries since the complete phase out of the garment industry, the Fitial administration has been trying to bring the large scale shipyard industry to the Commonwealth. Fitial first met with Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) in July 2011 to solicit the senator’s assistance in pushing for such legislative fix. McCain, a Republican U.S. Senator, attempted to get this legislation moving in the Senate Armed Services committee last year, but the opposition by the Democrat majority in the Senate ultimately succeeded in blocking such an opportunity for the CNMI
“Not only would such a huge industry bring much needed economic stimulation to the CNMI, it would create much needed jobs for our residents,” said Fitial. “At this point, providing jobs to our people is my administration's priority. The only way to achieve this goal is to lure big business types of investments.”
Fitial met again with McCain during his trip to the nation’s capitol last month. Again, Fitial asked for McCain’s support. McCain expressed his concerns for the people of the NMI and his strong willingness to help resuscitate the depressed economy. McCain noted that although there is still a likelihood that Democrats in the U.S. Senate will still oppose it, he will make every effort to bring this much needed legislative amendment on the floor for consideration. Should democrats once again block this relief for the CNMI, both McCain and Fitial are hopeful that Republicans will take control of the U.S. Senate in the upcoming November elections. If Republicans take control of the Senate and retain control of the U.S. House, the CNMI stands to finally get the congressional assistance it deserves as members of the American political family.
“I remain hopeful that members of the U.S. Congress will strongly consider our request and pave the way for economic relief for the thousands of Americans who call the CNMI home,” stated Fitial. (Office of the Governor)