Torres welcomes CW bill re-introduction in House

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres welcomed a veteran congressman’s plan to re-introduce an urgent legislation on the CW program extension as a way to go around a possible obstacle that is blocking the bill’s passage in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a letter dated May 19, 2018, Torres described U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) willingness to introduce legislation to rectify the parliamentary problem with Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s S. 2325 as “welcoming news.”

Over the weekend, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) announced that they would be pushing for a U.S. House version of the S. 2325, inclusive of U.S. Senate amendments, after the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee brought up monetary concerns in the bill, which originated in the U.S. Senate.

“The Senate passed the Murkowski bill with a number of amendments on April 23, [2018]. One of the Senate amendments, an anti-fraud fee that employers must pay, is the source of the parliamentary problem in the House,” Sablan said in a statement.

Among other things, S. 2325 would extend the CW-1 program beyond its slated sunset date of Dec. 31, 2019.

In the letter to Bishop, Torres reiterated the urgency of the CW extension, especially after news that the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has had all of their CW-1 nurse petitions rejected.

“Most worrisome is that the hospital had 100 percent of its CW-1 nursing staff denied, which would result in the loss of more than 120 nurses, nurse supervisors, and nurse managers. As the start of the new fiscal year approaches, I have serious concerns of the viability in our islands healthcare system if no action is achieved in the coming weeks,” Torres wrote to Bishop.

Torres said in a separate statement that his relationship with Bishop remains healthy as the U.S. congressman assured the governor back in February of his assistance and expedited passage of the bill.

“The discussions have been fruitful, and while the timelines have been pushed back, the relationships I have personally made with Chairman Bishop and Chairman Murkowski will ensure that we will have legislation passed that protects and develops U.S. workers, acknowledges our long-term guest workers, and strengthens existing safeguards against bad actors in our economy,” Torres said in a statement.

According to a statement from Sablan announcing that Bishop would be pushing for the re-introduction of the legislation to prevent parliamentary problems, “by introducing the bill anew in the House…we avoid the origination clause problem.”

According to the U.S. Constitution, only the House can come up with revenue-generating legislation and the U.S. House Parliamentarian ruled that the anti-fraud fee as introduced in S. 2325 is considered revenue.

“We are keeping the anti-fraud fee, however,” said Sablan. “A major feature of the U.S. Workforce Act [S.2325] is to crack down on ‘bad actor’ businesses that abuse the CW system and foreign workers,” he added.

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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