H. Rept. 109-110 - 109th Congress (2005-2006)
June 08, 2005, As Reported by the Resources Committee

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House Report 109-110 - NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS DELEGATE ACT




[House Report 109-110]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



109th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    109-110

======================================================================



 
                 NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS DELEGATE ACT

                                _______
                                

  June 8, 2005.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Pombo, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 873]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 873) to provide for a nonvoting delegate to the House of 
Representatives to represent the Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands, and for other purposes, having considered the 
same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend 
that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 873 is to provide for a nonvoting 
delegate to the House of Representatives to represent the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and for other 
purposes.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

History of Non-Voting Delegates to Congress

    Territorial delegates have existed in Congress and 
specifically in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1787, 
with the establishment of a government under the Northwest 
Ordinance for the territory northwest of the Ohio River. In 
1898, the U.S. acquired overseas territories (Puerto Rico, the 
Phillippines and Guam) at the end of the Spanish-American War. 
Their status within the American family became a subject of 
debate for Congress. Nevertheless, a law was enacted which 
provided a new form of territorial representation for Puerto 
Rico and the Phillippines--legally recognized as unincorporated 
territories having only the ``fundamental'' part of the 
Constitution applied. This representation did not grant the 
privileges that are held by today's delegates.
    At this time, there are four non-voting delegates to the 
U.S. House, including ones for the District of Columbia, 
American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These 
positions, which were created in the 1970s, all have most of 
the same parliamentary rights as any Member of the House, 
including the introduction and cosponsorship of bills , the 
right to offer amendments on measures being debated, and voting 
privileges in committees to which they are appointed. However, 
they do not have a right to vote on the floor of the House.

History of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is 
a United States territory composed of 14 major islands totaling 
approximately 183.5 square miles. The southernmost of the 
Mariana Island chain, but a separate political jurisdiction, is 
the Territory of Guam. The U.S. began its presence in the 
western Pacific at the end of the Spanish-American War, whereby 
the U.S. acquired Guam through the 1898 Treaty of Paris. At the 
time, the remaining islands of the Mariana archipelago were 
sold by Spain to Germany.
    After losing control of Guam to the Japanese Empire in 
1941, U.S. forces returned to the Marianas region of the 
Pacific in 1944 and recaptured Guam. In doing so, U.S. forces 
also secured the northern Mariana Islands (NMI). It was from 
these islands during this time that B-29s were launched from 
the island of Tinian to deliver the atomic bombs that forced 
Japan's surrender.
    After World War II, the NMI were governed by the U.S. 
military until replaced by civilian appointees under the 
authority of the Department of the Interior in 1962. U.S. 
administration formally began in the NMI in 1947 as they were 
part of the United Nations Strategic Trust Territory of the 
Pacific Islands. Our role in overseeing these islands was to 
assist them in advancing politically as well as in 
socioeconomic matters.
    To that end, the people of the NMI sought self-government 
as part of the United States. In a 1969 plebiscite they voted 
to reunify their islands with the southern-most island of the 
Mariana archipelago, Guam, thereby becoming part of a U.S. 
territory. Voters in Guam, however, rejected unification with 
their northern neighbors who had been under German and then 
Japanese Administration for so many years. In general, as part 
of its political evolution, the northern Mariana Islands began 
a push for greater self-governing powers. Its framework for 
asserting these powers was encapsulated in a ``Covenant'' it 
submitted to Congress in 1975.
    Congress then acted by passing the Covenant to Establish a 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union 
with the United States of America which was then signed into 
law in 1976 by President Gerald Ford as Public Law 94-241. 
President Ronald Reagan's Presidential Proclamation on November 
3, 1986, established a covenant between the U.S. government and 
the NMI which provided Commonwealth status. Further, the United 
Nations acknowledged the termination of the Trust Territory of 
the Pacific Islands, with respect to the CNMI, by Security 
Council Resolution Number 638 on December 22, 1990.
    The practical implications of the enactment of the Covenant 
was that from the 1976 the residents of the northern Mariana 
Islands became U.S. citizens and everyone born on these islands 
since that date are also U.S. citizens by birth. The Covenant 
also provided for local control over immigration and minimum 
wage laws. These special measures were included to assist the 
CNMI with their economic transition, though Congress retains 
the discretion to modify the law in these areas.
    The resident or guest worker population is one that has 
sparked some controversy during past consideration of similar 
legislation, and is the main area of focus for Congress when 
discussing the labor and immigration laws in the CNMI. The 
garment industry has been a very important component of CNMI 
development and its relationship with the United States, but 
some of its factories have closed in recent years and revenues 
have declined. And earlier this year, with the expiration of 
World Trade Organization quotas, this industry could see a 
sharp decline as the competitive advantage the CNMI currently 
holds will lessen.
    Congressional influence, Administrative actions and local 
changes have resulted in reduced allegations of worker 
exploitation and human rights violations. The Committee 
supports the actions taken by Governor Juan Babauta, including 
labor law enforcement and improved coordination with the 
federal agencies that oversee the local immigration and labor 
practices.
    H.R. 873 will provide for a better means for the CNMI to 
keep Congress abreast of its progress and request further 
assistance to address its unique economic base.

Need for H.R. 873

    The CNMI is the last and only territory with a permanent 
population that has no permanent voice in Congress. There are 
no other territories, possessions, or former trust territories 
which would meet the historical criteria for a delegate. The 
former Micronesian TrustTerritories are now associated 
republics. They have ambassadors, not delegates, and are members of the 
United Nations.
    Populations of the different territories have varied from 
as few as 5,000 to 259,000 when they were first represented by 
a nonvoting delegate. The small population of the CNMI was 
cited by the Marianas Political Status Commission, which 
negotiated the Covenant for the islands, as the reason the CNMI 
was unable to obtain a nonvoting delegate in the Covenant 
despite the backing of the Executive Branch of the federal 
government. The CNMI population of 15,000 (recorded in the 1970 
Census) was considerably less at that time than the populations 
of Guam (86,926) and the Virgin Islands (63,200) had been when 
those territories were provided nonvoting delegates in 1972.
    Two years after approving the Covenant without a provision 
for a CNMI delegate, however, Congress granted a delegate to 
American Samoa with a resident population of 27,000, most of 
whom were not U.S. citizens. Today, with a U.S. citizen 
population of approximately 35,000 and a total population of 
69,221, according to the 2000 Census, the CNMI is clearly 
within the threshold of population established by precedents 
both historical and contemporary.
    H.R. 873 would provide for a nonvoting delegate to the U.S. 
House of Representatives beginning in the 110th Congress to 
replace the Resident Representative it currently has. It would 
also create a federal office for the CNMI as was created for 
all of the other U.S. jurisdictions. The legislation would also 
provide for the manner in which this new delegate could be 
elected, along with the criteria that would qualify an 
individual for candidacy. These components are all similar to 
those criteria set forth in the CNMI Constitution. H.R. 873 
will also not abrogate the various existing laws established 
within the Covenant.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 873 was introduced on February 17, 2005, by Chairman 
Richard W. Pombo (R-CA).\1\ The bill was referred to the 
Committee on Resources. On May 18, 2005, the Full Resources 
Committee met to consider the bill. No amendments were offered 
and the bill was then ordered favorably reported to the House 
of Representatives by voice vote.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ The Full Committee held a hearing to examine the potential for 
a delegate from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on 
February 25, 2004. At this hearing, the Administration testified in 
support of the concept of a nonvoting delegate for the CNMI. Similar 
legislation providing for a CNMI non-voting delegate has been 
introduced in every Congress beginning with the 103rd. The last example 
to be reported by the House Resources Committee was in the 108th 
Congress, as H.R. 5135, which was also introduced by Chairman Richard 
Pombo.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

    This Act may be cited as the ``Northern Mariana Islands 
Delegate Act.''

Section 2. Delegate to the House of Representatives from Commonwealth 
        of the Northern Mariana Islands

    This section states that section 901 of Public Law 94-241 
authorizes the Resident Representative position and that this 
person shall be a nonvoting Delegate to the U.S. House of 
Representatives.

Section 3. Election of delegate

    This section sets forth the form of election and timing of 
the elections. It creates a plurality winner in the general 
election after a primary election wherein a majority vote 
decides the winner of that primary election.

Section 4. Qualifications for office of delegate

    This section delineates criteria for candidate eligibility, 
consistent with local CNMI law.

Section 5. Determination of election procedure

    This section clarifies which powers within the election 
framework remain within CNMI control, continuing matters of 
local application.

Section 6. Compensation, privileges, and immunities

    This section states that all the current Rules of the House 
of Representatives pertaining to Members of Congress, including 
compensation, privileges, and immunities, shall apply to the 
nonvoting delegate created in the legislation.

Section 7. Lack of effect on covenant

    This section clarifies that the powers enumerated in the 
Covenant remain.

Section 8. Definition

    This section defines ``Delegate'' as the Resident 
Representative mentioned in section 2.

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Resources' oversight findings and recommendations 
are reflected in the body of this report.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Article IV, section 3 of the Constitution of the United 
States grants Congress the authority to enact this bill.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
    2. Congressional Budget Act. As required by clause 3(c)(2) 
of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, this 
bill does not contain any new budget authority, credit 
authority, or an increase or decrease in revenues or tax 
expenditures. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 
enactment of this bill would result in increased direct 
spending of $200,000 in 2007, with total direct spending of $2 
million over the 2007-2015 time frame.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. This bill does 
not authorize funding and therefore, clause 3(c)(4) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives does not 
apply.
    4. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate. Under clause 
3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974, the Committee has received the following cost estimate 
for this bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

H.R. 873--Northern Mariana Islands Delegate Act

    Summary: H.R. 873 would provide Congressional 
representation for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana 
Islands (CNMI) by creating a nonvoting delegate in the House of 
Representatives beginning in January 2007 (110th Congress). As 
a nonvoting Member, the delegate would have some of the same 
powers of a full- fledged Member including the ability to 
introduce bills, offer amendments, and vote in House committees 
but would not be able to vote on the floor of the House. In 
addition, the delegate would receive the same compensation, 
allowances, and benefits as a Member. Under current law, the 
Northern Mariana Islands elects a Resident Representative who 
represents the CNMI government in the United States but has no 
official status in the Congress.
    CBO estimates that enacting the bill would increase direct 
spending by about $200,000 in 2007 and by about $2 million over 
the 2007-2015 period. In addition, implementing the bill would 
have discretionary costs of approximately $1 million in 2007 
and $5 million over the 2007-2010 period, assuming the 
appropriation of the necessary funds.
    H.R. 873 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of H.R. 873 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 800 
(general government).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                        By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  2006     2007     2008     2009     2010     2011     2012     2013     2014     2015
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               CHANGES IN DIRECT SPENDING

Delegate Salary and Benefits:
    Estimated Budget Authority................................        0        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *
    Estimated Outlays.........................................        0        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

                                                      CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Delegate's Office and Administration:
    Estimated Outlays.........................................        0        1        1        1        1        1        1        1        1        1
    Estimated Authorization Level.............................        0        1        1        1        1        1        1        1        1        1
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note.--* = less than $500,000.

    Basis of estimate: For this estimate, CBO assumes that the 
bill will be enacted near the start of fiscal year 2006 and 
that spending will follow historical patterns for Congressional 
spending.
            Direct Spending
    Enacting H.R. 873 would increase direct spending for the 
payment of the salary of the new nonvoting delegate and the 
costs of associated benefits. CBO estimates that the increase 
in direct spending for Congressional salaries and benefits 
would be about $2 million over the 2007-2015 period. That 
estimate assumes that the current annual salary of $162,100 
would be adjusted for inflation. With benefits, the 2007 cost 
would be just above $200,000.
            Spending Subject to Appropriation
    Based on the current administrative and expense allowances 
available for Members and other typical office costs, CBO 
estimates that the addition of a new nonvoting delegate would 
cost about $1 million in fiscal year 2007 and about $5 million 
over the 2007-2010 period, subject to the availability of 
appropriated funds.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 873 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or 
tribal governments.
    The bill does not require CNMI to select a delegate, but if 
it chooses to do so, it would require the government of CNMI to 
hold biennial elections in even years. (All CNMI elections now 
take place in odd years.) Based on information provided by CNMI 
officials, we estimate that the cost of each election would be 
about $25,000. CNMI would save substantially more than that, 
however, because it would no longer pay for a Resident 
Representative in Washington once a delegate was elected and in 
place. All the expenses of the delegate's office would be paid 
by the federal government.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Matthew Pickford. 
Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Marjorie 
Miller. Impact on the Private-Sector: Craig Cammarata.
    Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would not change existing law.