As the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan takes shape in Congress, the Northern Marianas can look forward to receiving significant additional assistance to get through the coronavirus pandemic, Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said.
Numerous committees of the House of Representatives are marking up their individual sections of the relief legislation this week and Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to have the House send the completed bill to the Senate by next week. The goal is to have the president sign the Rescue Plan into law before the current round of unemployment assistance expires on March 14.
In addition to extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which for the first time ever is providing help to workers in the Marianas who lost their jobs, the Rescue Plan is expected to have as much as $160 million for the Marianas public school system and enough funding to maintain the Marianas Nutrition Assistance Program into 2023.
President Biden has also committed to including an $1,400 recovery rebate for taxpayers.
Sablan said he remains hopeful of significant funding for Commonwealth government operations. “If we are successful, I expect the Governor to stop the austerity and rehire furloughed workers,” Sablan said. “And, I believe, we need to invest in new healthcare facilities, improvements to the Commonwealth Health Center, and a new clinic for both Rota and Tinian.”
Sablan also said he is working with the House Energy and Commerce Committee on additional Medicaid funding for the Marianas and with the Ways and Means Committee on federal funding for the Earned Income Tax Credit and additional Child Tax Credit monies for families.
Sablan first introduced legislation to fund the Earned Income Tax Credit in 2015, a move the Obama/Biden administration supported in 2016. When the House passed legislation to pay for the Marianas EITC, however, the Trump administration threatened a veto, and the Senate took no action.