Sablan: OAG says no enactment of law required over ARPA


Sen. Vinnie F. Sablan (R-Saipan), middle, conducts a slide presentation yesterday afternoon about the Senate’s version of the budget bill for the government’s operation in fiscal year 2023. Also in the photo are Sens. Francisco Q. Cruz (R-Tinian), to Sablan’s left and Karl King-Nabors (R-Tinian). (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

Sen. Vinnie F. Sablan (R-Saipan) disclosed yesterday afternoon that the Office of the Attorney General provided a letter to the House of Representatives, stating that for the Commonwealth to receive funds under the American Rescue Plan Act, an enactment of Commonwealth law is not required.

At the senators’ press conference in the Senate chamber, Sablan said with the OAG’s letter, it was then that the Executive Branch and the Torres administration went ahead and started to expend ARPA funds in satisfying the requirements of the ARPA spending plan that was approved by the U.S. Treasury.

In the slide presentation, Sablan noted that the House also had a separate legislation last year to appropriate ARPA funds in its entirety when the ARPA funds were initiated and given to the CNMI government.

Aside from Sablan, Sens. Karl King-Nabors (R-Tinian) and Francisco Q. Cruz (R-Tinian) also held a slide presentation about the Senate’s budget bill version during the press briefing. Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee chair Sen. Victor B. Hocog (R-Rotra) also explained what the Senate and the House  did in coming up with their respective budget bills.

Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) explained why they called a press conference as he also thanked minority members Sens. Teresita A. Santos (Ind-Rota) and Edith E. DeLeon Guerrero (D-Saipan) for voting “yes” on the Senate’s budget bill version.

“Although they did have some questions, at the end of the day they agreed with the product of the Fiscal Affairs Committee,” Hofschneider said.

Sablan said Torres identified $32 million in ARPA funds in the FY 2023 budget, but the House allocated an additional $20 million totaling $52 million in ARPA funds.

Sablan said Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig clarified during the Senate session  that the $20 million allocated  by the House  from the Medicaid  reimbursement is no longer available.

He said funds were used to issue a second stimulus  for the CNMI, which was highly encouraged and supported by the House  to provide additional assistance in the community.

Sablan said Atalig also acknowledged that  it is a requirement for the state to submit a spending plan, for reporting purposes, to the U.S. Treasury on a quarterly basis detailing how funds are being spent in the Commonwealth in accordance with the ARPA guidelines.

Saipan Tribune will publish more information about the Senate press conference today, Thursday.

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
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