CNMI Legislation Stymied By D.C. Politics

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Guam –  Legislating in Congress just got a whole lot harder for the islands and everyone else.

Just when it seemed there might be a smooth ending to a tumultuous year, political ‘reality’ slammed the brakes on the legislative process, here.

Senate Republicans wrote Democratic Leader Harry Reid, they will block any legislation until the Senate passes an extension of expiring income and other tax breaks and a continuing budget resolution.

Energy and natural resources top Insular staffer Al Stayman says that does not help the NMI’s submerged lands bill, already passed once by the house.

Stayman said “by sending a letter, notifying the majority leader that Republicans will filibuster any motion on cloture on any bill before the tax bill is done, again, just makes it more uncertain.” 

But he doesn’t rule out action on non-controversial bills that may not face a procedural vote to overcome a filibuster, such as the omnibus lands bill. And Stayman says such an omnibus lands bill is now being assembled.

“If no one objects,” says Stayman, “then the majority leader can simply ask that the bill be passed without objection.”

Stayman says NMI control of its submerged lands out to the territorial limit remains in the draft, after overcoming earlier objections by Arizona Republican John McCain and Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn.

But even if the Senate passes the lands bill package, the House must also act. The House passed the CNMI measure as a stand-alone measure.

Meantime, incoming House Speaker John Boehner called for new congressional spending reforms that could impact the islands, including a ‘cutgo’ rule to force spending cuts in any bill that creates a new program.

the gop succeeded last may in blocking a bill by congressman greg kilili comacho sablan that would have spent 18-million for a marianas trench monument visitors center.