Vice speaker Rep. Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan) said last Friday that the Legislature should work on the administration’s spending plan as it is the fastest way to get to the community the estimated $515 million that’s allocated to the CNMI under the American Rescue Plan.
At the House session, Attao was among the 10 representatives who voted against the passage of House Bill 22-33 that would grant the Legislature appropriation powers over the $515 million in Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund.
“If the administration is going to propose a spending plan, I think that’s the angle that we can actually utilize. Take that spending plan. Work on that spending plan,” said Attao during discussion of the bill.
The bill eventually scraped a single majority to pass the House and head to the Senate. House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) had to exercise his authority to break the 10-10 tie by voting twice to pass the bill after a long debate last Friday.
Attao said if that money is considered outside source and it does not apply to the CNMI laws and the Constitution, then they can fill in those holes in the spending plan.
“Take away what we think is not important by the administration and act what we believe is important as a body,” said Attao, adding that he believes that will be fastest way to be able to get these monies out to the community.
He said if the administration fails to provide a spending plan within the next 60 days, then they (lawmakers) have the power to create these committees to address the issues.
“I cannot support this legislation right now,” said Attao.