New Omnibus Bill & Fitial Federalization Fight

March 11, 2008

As posted yesterday, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced the new omnibus bill, S 2739, this week. No action is expected until after the Easter recess. The Senators will return March 31, 2008.

I am hopeful that the bill will pass the Senate in April if no obstructionist action in the form of controversial amendments is taken. The last omnibus bill, S 2483 met it's demise when Senator Tom Colburn (R-OK) attached a controversial amendment to allow guns in public parks.

Governor Fitial has called on the FFFs (Fitial Federalization Fighters) to launch a new campaign against the newly introduced omnibus bill. A Saipan Tribune article states:

"The Fitial administration is soliciting the help of the 16th Legislature and the local business community to fend off a proposed federal takeover of the CNMI's immigration system.

Reacting to reports that a new omnibus bill will be introduced in the U.S. Senate in a matter of weeks, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's press secretary Charles P. Reyes said the administration will not take this sitting down and hopes that its efforts will be supported by local lawmakers, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, and other business groups."

Although there has been no statement of opposition to this legislation, human right groups in the states have initiated letter writing, and email campaigns to Senate offices to solicit support for this legislation.