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Asian/Pacific Americans in Congress recognized

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — The Committee on House Administration of the U.S. House of Representatives has released Asian and Pacific Islander American in Congress, 1900-2017 to coincide with the May celebration of Asian Pacific Americans month.

The 600-page work contains profiles of every Asian and Pacific American who has served in Congress, along with a narrative history of people of Asian Pacific heritage in America.

The new book is part of a larger series that includes Women in Congress, 1917-2006; Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2008; and Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-2012. The APA history was commissioned by a House Concurrent Resolution in 2001, authored by Guam Delegate Robert A. Underwood.

From the very first APA Member of Congress, Robert W. Wilcox, Home Rule Party-Hawai’i, to the most recently elected — Pramila Jayapal, D-WA, Ro Khanna, D-CA, S. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-IL, Stephanie Murphy, D-FL, and Kamala Harris, D-CA — the growing influence and presence of Asian and Pacific Americans throughout our nation is clearly reflected. Today, there are 18 APA Members of Congress, the largest number ever.

“The people of the Marianas can be proud to be part of the growing population of Asian and Pacific Americans,” says U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan. “We have so much to contribute of our cultures to enrich the American tapestry.”

Sablan is the first and only person from the Northern Marianas to serve in Congress. His biography in the book characterizes his work as focused on providing for the basic needs of his constituents and seeking parity for the Northern Marianas in federal law. He has introduced more than 40 bills during his time in Congress. Sablan’s very first bill, conveying submerged lands rights, became Public Law 113-34.

“As a member of the Agriculture Committee, he added a provision to the 2014 Agricultural Act to create a pilot program to bring the Marianas into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” according to the official history.

“He also authored legislation to increase federal support for education in the Northern Marianas and other U.S. insular areas. The necessary change in funding formulas for low-income island students was successfully included in the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act.”

The new history also explains how Congressman Sablan is a voice for the people of the Marianas, using his position to educate Congress about living conditions in the islands.

“[Y]our’re lucky enough to get two to three hours of water a day,” he is quoted as saying on the House floor in 2009. “And not just that, but, you can’t drink the water anyway.” Since then, with Sablan’s support, federal funding for water infrastructure in the Marianas has increased sevenfold, the official House publication reports.

In addition to the newly published book, there are lesson plans and interactive features available in an online companion at the History, Art & Archives website of the U.S. House of Representatives at http://history.house.gov.