28 Mar 2018
- By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
VISITING U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said if her bill, S. 2325 or the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act, is passed by Congress, President Donald Trump is likely to sign it.
She said she recognizes the importance of having a reliable workforce, adding the islands cannot build a good economy and attract investments without an adequate workforce.
Regarding her bill, which is pending in the U.S. Senate, the Alaska Republican said: “I think we have worked very hard to find a product that is a compromise. We recognize that this is not everything that we all want, but…we are very close I believe in moving this legislation in the Senate with unanimous content and…I think that gives the president a very clear message. I believe he is generous and…will sign it.”
Murkowski said she introduced the bill because she recognized that “there are genuine issues when it comes to workforce and it is an issue not only on Saipan but within the entire region.”
She added, “If you don’t have a workforce you don’t have much of an economy and you can’t attract investors, you can’t attract tourists…. So recognizing that need…we saw the challenges and recognize that the only way to address it is through legislation.”
She said the bill was product of a collaborative effort involving many people including the local business community.
“This is something that did not just come about quickly. This was an effort by many people who have been working cooperatively to find solutions. When I think about the significance of the commitment of the people who…help[ed]…advance this, it seems to me that there’s a dozen who made a long trip to help educate the other members of the Congress and this was an effort that was far reaching and very comprehensive.”
Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres thanked the senator and American Samoa Delegate Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen for visiting Saipan and Tinian.
“We are grateful to them and we really appreciate their coming here and for all the work they’ve done, including their advice and recommendations. We are happy that the bill is moving forward…and it’s important that we acknowledge that swith [Senator Murkowski’s] coming out here and having a first-hand experience of our situation, we can have an advocate and voice in the U.S. Senate.”
Asked about her impression of Saipan, the senator told reporters: “Beautiful! Beautiful physically and the people here — there is genuine hospitality.”
U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, the other main proponent of the NMI workforce bill in the U.S. Congress, also thanked Murkowski for taking the time to visit the islands.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Angel Demapan said Murkowski’s visit is very significant and beneficial to the CNMI.
Speaker Ralph Demapan and Senate President Arnold Palacios likewise commended and thanked the senator for visiting the islands and for advocating CNMI issues in the U.S. Senate.
Murkowski and her team will leave Saipan early Wednesday morning and head to Palau.
The chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Murkowski arrived here Tuesday morning with husband Verne Martell, American Samoa Delegate Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield and Congressman Kilili.
The group came from Guam and arrived on Tinian at 9 a.m. to meet with the governor, Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas and the island’s lawmakers.
At past 12 noon, the Murkowski delegation flew to Saipan where they were welcomed by the governor, first lady Diann Torres, Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog, his wife Villa, Senate President Arnold Palacios and Speaker Ralph Demapan.
The group held a closed-door meeting over lunch at Surf Club in Chalan Kanoa. This was followed by a tour of the island and a wreath-laying ceremony at American Memorial Park where the senator answered questions from the local media.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/103232-murkowski-trump-likely-to-sign-nmi-workforce-bill