House of Representatives minority leader Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) said Saturday that he and two other members supported the House’s first version of the budget bill for the government’s operations in Fiscal Year 2023 because it was only the budget legislation before them on that day.
Speaking during Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ signing of a budget bill into law Saturday, Demapan said he, and Reps. Roy Christopher A. Ada (R-Saipan) and Patrick H. San Nicolas (R-Tinian) were the only minority members present when the House passed its version of the budget bill last Aug. 27.
“But life is about benchmarks. On that day, there was only one budget version before us,” said Demapan, adding that in the spirit of moving forward with the budget bill because it was like they were crunching for time, they agreed to pass the House’s budget version and transmit it to the Senate.
He said they supported the House’s budget bill version that had no comparison, but when the Senate unanimously passed their budget version last Sept. 23, something better came before them.
“And there is nothing in the world that prohibits us from un-supporting something for something better,” the minority leader said.
Demapan said they have that judgment to make and that they made that judgment when the Senate’s version came forward.
“We believe that was now the better, best portion to guide our budget for the next fiscal year,” he said, adding that they were more than happy to support the Senate’s version.
Demapan, Ada, San Nicolas, and Reps. Joseph Lee Pan T. Guerrero (R-Saipan) and Joseph A. Flores (Ind-Saipan) voted against the rejection of the Senate’s version last Tuesday, Sept. 27.
“We believe that that’s the product and that was the time that the people already needed a budget in place to alleviate the fears [on a partial shutdown],” the minority leader said.
Demapan said the Senate and the House had a battle over whether to use 80% or 20% of the American Rescue Plan Act funding for personnel, but at the end of the day there was one thing that they cannot overlook—to kind of jeopardize U.S Treasury restrictions and approvals just because they call themselves as the legislature.
“We cannot jeopardize the one thing that could take all the funding away from us,” he said.
Demapan is thankful to the Senate for making sure that the CNMI stays within the confines of the U.S. Treasury.