House Resolution 339, which would increase the number of CW-1 workers in the CNMI to 15,000 just for fiscal year 2017, passed the U.S. House of Representatives again after the measure went to a floor vote on Monday.
HR 339, introduced by Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), again goes to the U.S. Senate for similar action. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it will soon be on President Donald J. Trump’s table for signing within the year.
Sablan re-introduced HR 339 in the first session of the 115th U.S. Congress on Jan. 5. It aims to increase the numerical limit of the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Nonimmigrant Visa program from 12,998 to 15,000 for fiscal year 2017.
If it becomes law, HR 339 would give temporary relief to the current workforce issues in the CNMI after the CW-1 cap was breached twice in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Because of this, hundreds of foreign guest workers had to exit the CNMI; that affected the operations of some businesses.
Rep. Thomas McClintock (R-California, 4th), the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands chair, suspended the rules and passed the bill without objections. The subcommittee is under the House Committee on Natural Resources headed by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah, 1st).
HR 339 would also increase the education fee for each approved CW permit of a foreign worker from $150 to $200, with the funds going to training U.S. qualified workers. Another proposed amendment is for construction workers getting their permits extended if it was first issued on Oct. 1, 2015.
HR 339 was referred to the Natural Resources Committee after Sablan introduced it on Jan. 5. It was also referred to the Judiciary Committee for a certain period and will later be determined by House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wisconsin, 1st) in each case for consideration if the provisions are within the committee’s jurisdiction.
On Monday, McClintock introduced a motion to suspend the rules and pass HR 339. The House considered suspending the rules and it proceeded with a 40-minute debate. The motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill went to a voice vote and was later agreed without objection.