WASHINGTON, D.C.- Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan will continue to be the ranking member of the House subcommittee with responsibility for insular affairs in the 113th Congress. Sablan's position on the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Areas was confirmed when the Democratic Caucus of the Natural Resources Committee approved its subcommittee leaders and membership on Tuesday. In addition, Sablan will now join the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation.
“I thank my Democratic Caucus colleagues for approving me to serve again as Ranking Member on a Subcommittee that has such broad responsibilities, not only for insular issues, but for ocean policy and the protection of fisheries and terrestrial wildlife, as well,” Sablan said.
“And I look forward to continuing the good working relationship I have enjoyed with Subcommittee chair Dr. John Fleming of Louisiana.
“While we may not always agree on every issue before the Subcommittee, Chairman Fleming has been quite supportive of the insular areas legislative issues under his review. Generally speaking, insular area legislation is nonpartisan and judged on its own merits both in the Subcommittee and at the full Committee level.”
Sablan said he has already mapped out some of his legislative goals for the 113th Congress. “Certainly, we will be taking up my territorial sea bill again,” Sablan said. “Having had the legislation pass the House twice - 416-0 and 397-0 - it has been frustrating to see the Senate keep the measure from being enacted each time,” said Sablan.
“But perseverance is always the key here in Congress. And we may have the opportunity to put the territorial sea bill into a larger Omnibus Territories Act that we are now considering along with American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, and Guam.”
Sablan also singled out H.R. 44, the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, introduced by Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo as an important item on the Subcommittee agenda. “I do support compensation being paid to those people on Guam, who were raped or interned or otherwise injured during the Japanese occupation, or to their survivors,” the Congressman said. “We need to settle this issue once and for all.”
Bordallo's bill provides funding for the compensation, which has previously been a stumbling block to passage of her legislation.
Sablan's new membership on the Public Lands Subcommittee should also help him advance Northern Marianas issues. The Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the National Park System. Sablan has legislative proposals for the study of appropriate lands on Rota to designate as a national park and for a Tinian annex to Saipan's American Memorial Park, where artifacts related to World War II on Tinian could be collected and interpreted.
National Monuments, including the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, are also part of the responsibility of Sablan's new Subcommittee, which is chaired by Utah Congressman Rob Bishop.
“Mr. Bishop, too, is someone who has been quite friendly to Northern Mariana Islands issues,” said Sablan, “and with whom I have been able to work across party lines.”
The 26 members of the Public Lands Subcommittee oversee the National Wildlife Preservation System, the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, military parks and battlefields, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and international efforts to protect the environment.
The 18-member Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Areas has an equally broad jurisdictional mandate. The Subcommittee looks after the Freely Associate States, Antarctic policy, aquaculture, international fisheries agreements, wildlife refuges, coastal zone management, marine sanctuaries, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, amongst other responsibilities.
“As island people with an economy based largely on tourism and the quality of our environment, our welfare in the Northern Marianas is very much linked with the environmental policy issues that are the core work of the Natural Resources Committee and the two Subcommittees I am on,” Sablan explains. “And not just our islands, but our nation - and the entire world for that matter - depends on our efforts to conserve and protect our natural environment for today and for all time.” (PR)