US Senate seeks answers from NMI

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U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan on Tuesday requested Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to answer questions from U.S. senators about the CNMI’s finances including how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds have been spent here.

Kilili told the governor that after the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing last week, several U.S. senators had specific questions regarding the CNMI.

Kilili provided the governor a list of the U.S. senators’ questions.

Kilili added that the Republicans in the Senate have said they “are unwilling to bail out state and territorial governments.”

“Thus, your responses about the financial health of your government are particularly important,” Kilili told the governor.

The following are among the U.S. senators’ questions:

  • Did the CNMI government transfer money from the coronavirus relief fund to municipal governments? If so, then how much?
  • Has the relief fund helped the CNMI? Are there any challenges to accessing the funds?
  • How is the CNMI addressing its projected revenue shortfall?
  • What is the full level of nutrition aid required by the CNMI through the end of this year?
  • Can you describe how the CNMI’s exclusion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has affected food security during the Covid-19 pandemic?
  • In your view, how would the CNMI benefit from participating in SNAP?
  • What is the long-term impact of typhoons, previous epidemics and other natural disasters on the CNMI’s healthcare system and infrastructure and how can the Commonwealth government cover these additional expenditures?

Kilili said the governor’s response should be submitted by July 17 in order to meet the deadline set by the Senate committee.

Asked for comment, Press Secretary Kevin Bautista said:

"We have received these questions and will be submitting the governor’s response to each question before the deadline, as we have always done with every congressional inquiry we have received. Communication with our federal partners and congressional leaders have always been important to us, and we intend to describe the full impact of how natural disasters and pandemics affect our vulnerable economy here in the CNMI and how we can work together to assist our community during times of emergency and crises.”



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