Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands)
Negotiations continue to add unemployment extension, more school funding, and other COVID relief measures to a final spending bill for this year. The House passed necessary legislation in October; and this week a bipartisan group of Senators put forward a plan (see table, above). As legislative language is drafted, your congressional office is talking with House and Senate negotiators about issues key to the Marianas. This includes getting the Commonwealth financial assistance, so that government services continue and government workers can keep their jobs. Many Republicans are against giving any money to state and territorial governments, however. I am also hopeful that federal unemployment assistance will be extended for at least four months, although the Trump administration keeps trying to cut the amount of assistance that would go to those who lost their jobs. And I believe we are on track to get more money for food aid and education, though there are many details still under discussion. Negotiations could fall through, but at least Republicans are now willing to talk about how to help our country get through this crisis.