WASHINGTON, D.C.—At the request of Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), the new Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D–Oregon), met with representatives of the U.S. insular areas yesterday.
The delegates from the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and U.S. Virgin Islands and the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico used the occasion to brief DeFazio on a variety of legislative concerns.
DeFazio took over the Ranking Member position on the Committee after the election of Ed Markey, the previous Ranking Member, to the U.S. Senate.
“I am very appreciative that Mr. DeFazio took the time to review our legislative agenda,” Sablan said. “Insular area policy is under the jurisdiction of the Natural Resources Committee, so it is important that the Democratic leader on the Committee be fully informed of our legislative goals.”
Sablan himself is the Ranking Member on the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs, and took responsibility for making sure that the delegates and resident commissioner had this opportunity.
Attending the briefing with DeFazio were Delegates Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam), and Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), and Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico).
Among the issues discussed at yesterday’s meeting was Sablan’s Territorial Omnibus Act, H.R. 2200, which is a compilation of legislative initiatives from each of the insular areas. That bill also has a companion in the Senate, S. 1237, introduced at Sablan’s request by Ron Wyden (D–Oregon), chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, together with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Committee’s Ranking Member. The Senate Committee had a hearing on S.1237 bill on July 11.
The insular areas representative urged DeFazio to work with the committee’s Republican leadership to schedule hearings on H.R. 2200 and other matters important to the islands, including the impacts of military activity, high energy costs, and the need for economic development incentives targeted to U.S. territories. (PR)