Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Ind-MP) declined to give a point-blank “yes” or “no” response Wednesday when asked if he is going to run again for the delegate post in November, but his vague response may contain the seeds of a hint when he said in an email response to Saipan Tribune’s question that incumbents “are presumed to be seeking reelection.”
The 65-year-old Sablan stated, though, that he is focused on work at the moment that he has not had the chance to discuss campaign plans with the Kilili for Congress Committee, his family, and supporters.
“I, of course, hope to do so soon,” he said.
The CNMI will have a mid-term election this November, during which the delegate post is one of the many posts that will be up for grabs. Right now, Sablan is on his sixth term as the CNMI’s delegate in the U.S. Congress.
The delegate said they have filed his initial paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, as required by law.
“Yet, even when we reach and announce our reelection decision, we will continue to place a higher priority on work,” he said.
Sablan said the campaign and the election, after all, are still months away and that they hope to get as much as work as possible done in the meantime. He said this is how they have conducted their campaigns in prior reelection efforts.
“We don’t see any reason to change the greater priority we place on work than we will in my campaign at this particular time in an election year,” he said.
Sablan handily defeated then-representative Angel Demapan of the Republican Party at the November 2018 elections.
The delegate said he remains focused on ensuring that the Northern Marianas and other insular areas have access to a longer Medicaid funding after the two-year bridge—“a program that will allow us to install electronic medical and other records with providers and with federal agencies. And a fraud unit office,” said Sablan, adding that these two are essential to the CNMI eventually getting into the full program available to the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
He said the CNMI’s failure to put together these two units before late fiscal year 2021 could mean a gradual decrease in the $120 million in Medicaid funds that Congress passed recently.
The delegate said they expect to hold an oversight hearing on how effective the federal government’s response was after natural disasters in the Pacific insular areas.
He said they hope to be able to get the U.S. Government’s Accountability Office’s perspective and review of the response so that the CNMI is better prepared for future disasters.
On the coronavirus outbreak, Sablan said the nation and the world are faced with the deadly virus that is estimated to have a vaccine developed in 12 to 18 months at best.
He underscored the importance for the NMI to be included in any public health supplemental appropriation meant to fight this disease and be prepared for when the virus crosses the Marianas shores.
In the meantime, Sablan urged people to watch the informational video produced for public broadcast by the House Office of Attending Physician.
On the budget, the delegate said hearings are in progress and that he has been asked to chair the fiscal year 2021 Department of the Interior budget oversight hearing this week.
As chairman of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Committee Subcommittee, Sablan will start holding oversight hearings to determine how well the law governing K-12 education programs are working.
“We expect to also look at issues in the law that may need revisiting for improvement,” he said.
This week, Sablan said, was dedicated to the annual veteran service organizations visits to hear their concerns and suggestions about services for the nation’s veterans.
While the Veterans of Foreign Wars is the only VSO the NMI has, he said there is always so much that VSOs provide to inform the Veterans Affairs Committee on what needs doing to help the heroes and warriors that served the nation in the uniformed services.
On H.R. 560 or the Northern Marianas Islands Residents Relief Act, Sablan said they need to get some traction in the U.S. Senate if they are going to move the legislation forward.
“Since the Trump administration has not expressed support for the bill, this won’t be easy but we have to give it our best effort,” he added.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 560, which proposes to provide permanent resident status to long-term foreign workers or CW workers, as well as investors, in the CNMI. Sablan introduced the bill.