A U.S. lawmaker introduced over the weekend new legislation that extends the CNMI foreign worker program beyond the 2019 slated end of the program.
Co-sponsored by Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (D-MP), U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) over the weekend introduced new legislation that effectively extends the CW-1 program beyond its end date of Dec. 31, 2019.
Although the official text of Bishop’s H.R. 5956, or the NMI U.S. Workforce Act of 2018, is still unavailable on the U.S. Congress website, a statement from Gov. Ralph DLG Torres contained the same provisions in U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) S.2325, which extended the CW-1 program to 2029, reset the CW-1 slots for 13,000, and issued CW-1 petitions valid for three years to those who are qualified.
S.2325 garnered unanimous U.S. Senate support.
However, Murkowski’s bill had an anti-fraud fee, which was deemed a revenue-generating provision. Only the U.S. House may introduce legislation that had revenue-generating provisions.
Due to this issue, Bishop agreed to introduce new legislation after the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee brought up the issue. According to a statement from the Torres administration, H.R. 5956 has gotten the clearance from Murkowski’s office, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Ways and Means Committee.
“I thank Chairman Bishop for his partnership throughout the long, working group process, finding consensus on the policies included in the U.S. Workforce Act,” said Sablan in a statement.
Bishop is also the U.S. House on Natural Resources Committee chairman, the committee to which H.R. 5956 was referred to.
“We will need the Democratic votes in the House to pass the U.S. Workforce Act and I intend to deliver,” Sablan said in the same statement, adding that the minimum to pass a bill under suspension of the rules was through a two-thirds vote.
Sablan said that while he had hoped that the Senate bill would go to U.S. President Donald J. Trump for his signature, he remains optimistic that the new bill would pass the U.S. House when they return to session in June.
H.R. 5956, if exactly the same as S. 2325, would bump up the CW-1 slots to 13,000. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Nov. 2017 set the CW slot at 4,999 for fiscal year 2019 and 2,999 for the remainder of calendar year 2019.
Sablan referred to the cuts as “unnecessary” and “harming” to the CNMI economy.