WASHINGTON, D.C.—Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) has laid out his legislative goals for the second session of the 115th U.S. Congress.
In a video message to constituents Friday, Sablan detailed the five issues of most importance in 2018.
“Everyone is concerned about the CW program,” Sablan said, “especially after the Trump administration cut the CW cap to get ready for the end of the program in 2019.
“I know we will still need foreign workers after 2019. So I have been working, since last July, with Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate on legislation that will mean more of our own people have jobs in our economy with enough foreign workers to fill in the gaps.”
Sablan said the working group is close to the bipartisan agreement needed to get the legislation enacted this year.
Also on the agenda are two major sources of funding that soon expire, E-NAP, which made more Marianas families eligible for food stamps and raised their monthly benefits, and Obamacare Medicaid money, $109 million that has helped keep the Commonwealth hospital open.
“For E-NAP I got $32.5 million in the last farm bill,” Sablan said. “Now the once-every-five years Farm Bill is up again. My goal is to add another $42.5 million to keep E-NAP going.
“Also, Obamacare Medicaid funding for all five insular areas runs out in 2019. With disaster assistance for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on the legislative agenda right now, this could be an opportunity. If more Medicaid funds are added for those two islands to help with recovery, then the Marianas, Guam, and American Samoa could also benefit.”
Sablan added the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to his House responsibilities in 2017. “I plan to keep using my new position to improve life for Marianas veterans,” he promised. “My main goal is to have a [Veterans Affairs]-staffed medical clinic in the Marianas. But there are smaller steps we can take, too. Being on the Veterans Committee makes my voice that much louder, when I talk about what Marianas vets need.”
Sablan has already received a commitment from the chairman of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Phil Roe (R-Tennessee), to hold a hearing on the needs of Pacific area veterans this year.
Last on Sablan’s legislative list for 2018 was federal grant funds. “The Commonwealth gets over $100 million annually in federal grants and Congress makes the decisions about which programs get funded and how much.
“Every member of Congress has a say in those decisions—even delegates. And we spend a lot of time every year making sure the programs of most importance to the Marianas continue to get funded. We will be working just as hard this year for those grant funds that so many Commonwealth agencies depend on to operate.” (PR)