WASHINGTON, D.C.—Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) issued the following statement on the announcement that Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) will be retiring at the end of the 113th Congress.
“George Miller’s knowledge of policy and politics and his leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives will be sorely missed. Remember: this is the man who worked with John Boehner to write the No Child Left Behind Act. Miller knows how to accomplish his goals and he knows how to work across the aisle. Those are skills we need in Congress; and those skills will not be easily replaced when George Miller leaves at the end of this year.
“Speaking personally, I will always be grateful that George Miller extended a hand of friendship to me as the first member of Congress representing the people of the Northern Mariana Islands. Many people saw Mr. Miller as an enemy of the Northern Marianas, because of his fight against labor conditions in the garment factories there.
“But Mr. Miller was not an enemy of the Marianas. He was—and remains—an enemy of exploitation and abuse, wherever it occurs. Last year, when the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh killed over a thousand workers, George Miller went to the scene. Miller is not an enemy of Bangladesh. He is just a man who believes that people should be treated fairly and humanely. And he understands that he has the influence and, therefore the responsibility to work to improve standards for people who may have no other champion.
“Fortunately, the garment factory days are long over in the Marianas. But because of George Miller’s efforts to help workers the minimum wage that the indigenous people of our islands now earn has almost doubled—and will reach the U.S. minimum in 2018. Because of George Miller more students in the Northern Marianas are eligible for Pell grants and those grants are larger, giving young people access to higher education and to future jobs that pay much more than minimum wage. Because of George Miller we have a million dollars in new money each year to help train locals to take over the jobs once held by non-U.S. workers in the Northern Marianas economy.
“George Miller continued the tradition of his own mentor, the late Phil Burton, who fought for the little guy and who was instrumental in approval of the Northern Marianas Covenant. The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund that put laptops in the hands of NMI students, repaired our school buildings, and paid teachers’ salaries; the EduJobs bill, which empowered teachers; healthcare reform with millions in new Medicaid money keeping our hospital open—these were all legislative initiatives where Mr. Miller played a key role.
“But George Miller is not gone yet. There is still more to be done to improve education, to raise incomes, and to be sure that people can be safe in their workplace, not only in the Northern Marianas, but throughout our nation. I look forward to seeing Mr. Miller devote his final year in Congress with renewed effort to those goals; and I look forward to working alongside George Miller and continuing to learn from him.” (PR)