Possible snag in CW bill


A U.S. House committee has brought up a possible issue on the foreign worker bill that might delay its passage in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said Tuesday the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee has raised an issue on a “small piece” of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) S.2325, or the Northern Marianas Islands U.S. Workforce Act, due to the “potential revenue generating measures” of the bill relating to the additional fees and charges added to the program. That concern could result in the bill being referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

“A referral to the [committee] could mean delays for the bill’s passage,” said Torres in a statement, adding that he has emphasized with the U.S. House leaders that the urgency for the bill’s passage just went up when the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has had only one of its nurses’ CW petitions approved. That nurse works at the Rota Health Center.

“At this point, I have been informed that another alternative is possible but would entail additional delays in approval,” said Torres, adding that the House has informed him that another bill could be “considered by the House” and amended to include all of the U.S. Senate-passed language.

“Unfortunately, doing this would mean the [U.S.] Senate would have to vote again on the measure before sending [it] to U.S. President Donald J. Trump for his signature. This alternative would mean a delay of weeks,” said Torres.

Torres is urging Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) speak with his colleagues in the U.S. House to “hasten the approval of S.2325” and provide “security for the businesses, organizations, and people who are relying on this bill” as fiscal year 2019 approaches.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services earlier said it would use a lottery system in order to choose which CW-1 petitions would be approved since they received more applications than the 4,999 limit they set for next fiscal year.

Sablan describes the cuts as “unnecessary and harmful” to the CNMI, especially with the improving economy.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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