Washington, DC – The American Rescue Plan, which provides a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, passed the House without any Republican votes. President Biden is expected to sign on Friday.
Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan issued the follow statement:
“One year ago, the bottom fell out for the people of the Northern Mariana Islands. Our tourism-dependent economy suddenly had no tourists. Businesses began closing. People were laid off. Schools closed. And government revenues plunged.
“We were fortunate that, as islands with few access points, we could keep the coronavirus at bay and remain healthy by screening every arrival.
“And we were fortunate to receive the economic help we needed from the federal government and from our fellow Americans. We will be forever grateful.
“Now vaccinations have begun. We are rolling up our sleeves to take the shot and to get back to work. But when will tourists feel safe to travel to our islands? And when will we feel safe allowing tourists to return? Like so much of what has happened over this last year, we cannot predict.
“That is why passage of the American Rescue Plan today is so important. The Rescue Plan will keep us healthy and economically sound as we make our way forward in this unpredictable future caused by the coronavirus.
“Those who remain laid off will continue to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, as they have since we passed the CARES Act last March.
“Taxpayers will receive another economic impact payment, $1,400, and more dependent children and certain dependent adults will qualify for additional aid.
“Our K-12 schools, which have managed to reopen on a limited basis, will remain open, because the Rescue Plan has $160 million to make sure teachers and staff can be paid. And the Northern Marians College and its students will also get the help needed to continue studies.
“Childcare providers, another critical small business, get an assist to stay open, benefiting working parents who depend on these services. Working families will, also, see their Child Tax Credit increase. And because we were able to amend the Rescue Plan to make Marianas’ taxpayers eligible for the advance monthly payment of CTC, just like Americans nationwide, island parents will be getting that money when it is most useful: to meet the immediate needs of growing children.
“Working families in the Marianas will also now -- for the first time in twenty-five years -- receive the Earned Income Tax Credit that is key to keeping Americans who work out of poverty.
“And for those who still cannot work or whose incomes are insufficient, we have included $30 million to provide food assistance in the Marianas and funds for housing, so no one need lose the roof over their head.
“Last but not least, I want to recognize the importance of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund included in the American Rescue Plan. I know this money was kept out of the relief measure we enacted in December, in part because of criticism this was a “blue state bailout.” Believe me, the Marianas is neither blue nor a state. We are simply a community of Americans, who have been crushed economically by this pandemic; and this fiscal aid to our state and municipal governments will fund police and keep other public servants employed, providing the services every community needs.
“Without the help of the federal government and the caring support of our fellow Americans the people of the Marianas would have suffered terribly over this last year. Instead, we remain healthy. Our children are in school. And we are ready to build back better, once this pandemic is finally behind us.
“Thank you, America.”