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House narrowly passes bill that requires legislative appropriation of $515M

Villagomez’s vote breaks tie
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House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) presides over a long session last Friday that started at 2:30pm and ended at 8pm. The House narrowly passed a bill that requires legislative appropriation of $515 million. The House also unanimously passed a bill that would repeal a law in order to provide relief for working families by making them eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) had to exercise his authority to break a 10-10 tie to pass last Friday a bill that mandates legislative appropriation for the estimated $515-million Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund that will be allocated to the CNMI.

House Bill 22-33, authored by House Means and Ways Committee chair Rep. Donald M. Manglona (Ind-Rota) and co-sponsored by six Democrats, will now go to the Republican-controlled Senate for action.

Ten members of the majority, including Villagomez, voted “yes” for the passage of the bill. Ten members of the minority, including floor leader Rep. Ralph N. Yumul (R-Saipan), voted against its passage.

Under Rule 11 Section 10, Villagomez is given the authority to vote again to break the tie. He exercised that authority last Friday. The votes now stood at 11 “yes” for its passage and 10 for “no.”

Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan) asked House legal counsel Joseph Taijeron if they’re in conflict with a one-man one-vote under the CNMI Constitution by Speaker Villagomez breaking the tie.

Taijeron said he does not believe they are in any conflict.

“Our House rules provide for this. This is the rule that that has been longstanding. I don’t believe there is a violation,” the counsel said.

Sablan asked Villagomez to instruct Taijeron to put his opinion in writing.

Villagomez granted Sablan’s request.

House Bill 22-33 will require legislative appropriation for all Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund monies—approximately $515 million—allocated to the CNMI for government operations by U.S. Congress through President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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