Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) welcomed election results from the rest of the United States last Tuesday, giving the Democratic Party the majority of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
That makes Sablan, a senior member of the Democratic caucus, eligible to be a chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce or of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over all insular affairs.
“We have been able to accomplish a lot even with a Republican majority over the last eight years,” Sablan said, “the CW bill, extra food stamp funding, the increased annual Title I money for schools, return of our submerged lands, and 24-hour water for Saipan.
“But when Democrats had the majority in my first two years in Congress we got $109 million for Medicaid and lowered the local match requirement. We increased Pell grants and made more students eligible. The Marianas became eligible for a state-share of domestic violence grant money. The troop store expansion began. And we got over $1 million in earmarks for [the Northern Marianas Trades Intitute], the Garapan Public Market, and Refaluwasch and Chamorro language programs.
“Those were good years for the Marianas,” Sablan said. “And I am looking forward to good years ahead with the Democrats back in the majority in the House and a chairmanship for the Marianas.”
Sablan congratulated all the new Democrats who won seats that had been held by Republicans and made the new majority possible.
“I also congratulate my friend Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Ben Ray was responsible for fundraising and recruiting candidates nationwide for this election. Democrats’ success today is in large measure the result of his work.
“Now, I look forward to returning to Congress for two more years to work for the people of the Mariana Islands.”
Sablan has already made public his “Agenda 116” for the next Congress, including:
Medicaid state-like treatment for the Marianas—already included in the Democrats Health Equity and Accountability Act with 71 cosponsors.
Federal tuition assistance for Marianas college students in mainland universities: Already included in the Aim Higher Act with 68 sponsors.
More funding for the Marianas E-NAP food stamp program: Already introduced in the Northern Mariana Islands Enhanced Nutrition Assistance Act.
The Northern Mariana Islands Workforce Stabilization Act providing status for long-term investors and workers, as agreed by CNMI 902 negotiators, with 36 cosponsors.
In addition, Sablan has already received assurances from Democratic leaders that his requests for supplemental disaster assistance for the Marianas to recover from Super Typhoon Yutu will be part of the appropriations package being put together for hurricanes Florence and Michael.
“Yutu disaster assistance will be my first order of business when I am back at work in Congress on Nov. 14,” Sablan said. “This is our chance to rebuild stronger than ever. I intend to make the most of all I have learned in 10 years in Congress to get the Marianas the help we need.” (PR)