Kilili eyes education subcommittee chairmanship

U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan wants to chair the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce- Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.

A senior member of the full committee and the current ranking member of its Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, Kilili caucuses with the U.S. Democrats who have won control of the incoming 116th U.S. House of representatives.

In a press conference at his Saipan office on Thursday, Kilili, who won a sixth term in November, said he will be in a position that will make him “very effective” for the people of the CNMI.

Kilili is interested in chairing the early childhood, elementary and secondary education subcommittee which, he added, has a broad oversight on many issues involving elementary and secondary education, Head Start, career and technical training, among others.

Since he was elected as the CNMI’s first delegate to the U.S. Congress in 2008, Kilili said he has successfully obtained federal funding for the Public School System. This, he added, includes  $5.3 million through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which will benefit all individuals in the CNMI, 3 to 21 years, with disabilities, as well as the islands’ early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, and their families.

In the   Every Student Succeeds Act, Kilili said he came up with a formula change for insular areas that increased Title I-A funding for elementary and high schools in the CNMI by more than $4 million for a total of $11 million, with further increases through 2020.

“My focus has been to get myself ready for what will come in the 116th Congress,” he said. “I would like to get more money for our schools, our teachers, our students — maybe money to build new schools, money to pay teachers higher salaries. Education is my top priority.”

Kilili said he will also continue to “work hard on disaster recovery.”

Recently, he said he was able to include the CNMI in a disaster supplemental bill, H.R. 695, which would provide the Commonwealth $100 million if it becomes law.

Kilili said he is thankful to incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, incoming Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey,  current Appropriations Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen and incoming House Subcommittee on Nutrition Chairman Sanford Bishop for their assistance in the disaster supplemental appropriations bill.

Kilili said there is also plan to turn the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resource-Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs into a separate full committee. If that happens, he said he will seek its vice chairmanship.

“When you are in the minority it is so hard to explain or lay out your vision because you don’t control the gavel.  Now that we are in the majority and now that I’m going to be taking over leadership positions, it gives me a chance to influence legislation, to work on bills that benefit us,” he added.

Asked for comment, Education Commissioner Glenn Muna said it would be “great news for the CNMI” if Kilili becomes chairman of the education subcommittee.

“Our office has always worked with our congressional delegate,” he added. “We want to make sure that we continue that partnership so we can continue to see how else the federal government can help our school district and provide services to our students.”

Muna said one of the things he brought up during his recent meeting with Kilili was the need for federal assistance  to build a new middle or high school.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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