Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) separately said that the congressional delegation to the CNMI led by a U.S. senator on Tuesday served its purpose by giving a peek into the progress the CNMI has made since it started transitioning to full U.S. citizen employment in 2008.
Torres and Sablan told Saipan Tribune in separate interviews yesterday that the congressional delegation, or codel, led by Sen. Lisa Murkowsi (R-AK), served its purpose of providing a glimpse of the NMI situation since the transition period of 2008.
The codel, which consisted of eight members, stayed only a day in the CNMI. The group also visited Tinian and Guam.
“We tried to put in as much as we can in the limited time she was here. Unfortunately, some of the requests that we made were not accommodated because of the time frame, but we tried to squeeze in as much as we can for her to appreciate what we have here,” Torres told Saipan Tribune.
Torres hosted a closed-door lunch meeting with the delegation, where the group also met members of the CNMI private sector and CNMI leadership at the Surf Club.
“Overall, I think the codel turned out really well. She got to see the most critical parts of Saipan as well and see how we’re doing as a whole,” added Torres, who did not specify where the delegation went.
Murkowski was accompanied on this trip by her husband, Verne Martell; Joint Region Marianas commander Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield; Delegate Aumua Amata C. Radewagen (R-AS); U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources senior Republican counsel Isaac Edwards; congressional staffer Emy Lesofski; U.S. Department of Defense’s Commander Jeremy Lyon; and Sablan.
Saipan Tribune attempted to obtain the full itinerary of the codel; however it was classified information and outside the Governor’s Office’s control, press secretary Kevin Bautista explained.
Sablan told Saipan Tribune that Murkowski told him she should have come to the CNMI sooner. He added that Murkowski wishes to have spent at least three days here.
“She really enjoyed herself here,” said Sablan. “We’ve been trying to get [Murkowski] here since February 2017. It was almost a yes from her, but something came up so [it did not push through],” he said.
Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), believes that, unlike a previous codel last year that critics described as a windshield tour of the CNMI, Murkowski’s codel was able to mingle with members of the NMI private sector and CNMI leadership through lunch.
“In this particular codel, Sen. Murkowski took an extra step that was missing in the previous one. The codel took the time to meet with the stakeholders and the members of the business community over lunch,” said Demapan, who was at the lunch meeting.
“In her discussions and dialogue with the different members of the business community, Murkowski has the opportunity to feel the pulse of the community; to feel what our struggles are; and to know just how beneficial her legislation is going to be to the workforce,” he said.
S. 2325, or the U.S. Workforce Act, seeks to reset the CW cap for fiscal year 2019 to 13,000; provide additional validity to long-time CW workers; and extend the CNMI transitional period, along with programs under it such as the CW program and E-2C investor program, to fiscal year 2029.
Murkowski introduced the legislation on Jan. 19, 2018, while Sablan simultaneously introduced the exact same legislation in the U.S. House. S.2325 is now on the U.S. Senate calendar for action.