Away from politics and federalization, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and Washington Rep. Pete A. Tenorio can agree on one thing they truly enjoy—playing the ukulele and singing their favorite old songs.
The two officials just did just that two nights ago at the Mariana House in Washington D.C., according to Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Juan T. Guerrero, who was with them at a dinner hosted by Tenorio’s office in D.C.
“We had dinner at the backside of Marianas House. It’s a good social function. There’s singing. The governor sang and played the ukulele. Both of them [governor and Tenorio] enjoyed the night singing and playing the ukulele,” said Guerrero.
“They sang Trust Territory songs and other favorites,” he added.
He said the dinner was strictly social and no talk—at least not in the hearing of everyone—about federalization, a major issue that splits the governor and Tenorio.
The Fitial administration and the business community are against any moves to federalize local immigration.
Tenorio takes a middle-ground position on the issue, provided that the CNMI is given visa waivers to keep its tourism markets and boost foreign investments.
The CNMI delegation led by the governor is currently in Washington D.C. to lobby the U.S. Senate against passing a CNMI federalization bill.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held its public hearing on the bill, S.6134, Thursday night (Saipan time).
One of the most controversial provisions in the bill is the recognition of long-term nonresident workers in the CNMI. Under the bill, these workers would be given a non-immigration visa, which would allow them to freely travel to the U.S. mainland, to work there and study.
Also present at the Mariana House dinner were first lady Josie Fitial, Attorney General Matthew Gregory, Finance Secretary Eloy Inos, and governor legal counsel Howard Willens.
Guerero said some congressional staffers also dropped by such as Tony Babauta and a colleague from the U.S. House of Representatives.
The dinner of barbecue chicken, ribs, sashimi, and rice started at 6:30pm and ended about 9pm.