CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, May 15, 2013, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 573, a bill to amend Public Law 93-435 with respect to the Northern Mariana Islands, providing parity with Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa,under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on February 6, 2013 by Del. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up and reported the bill by unanimous consent.
H. R. 573 amends section one and two of Public Law 93â€435 (48 U.S.C. 1705) to provide CNMI with the same benefits in its submerged lands as Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. The amendment to section two of the public law retains federal defense and navigational rights.
The federal government shares maritime jurisdiction with coastal states and U.S. territories. In most cases, U.S. law gives coastal states and territories title to submerged lands up to three nautical miles from the coast; any lands outside this coastal area belong to the U.S. federal government. The territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa were given title over these submerged lands in 1974 when Congress passed the Territorial Submerged Lands Act. However, the Act was enacted before the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) was granted territory status. H.R. 573 would give CNMI the same possession of submerged land as these other U.S. territories.
The House passed similar legislation (H.R. 670) in the 112th Congress on October 3, 2011 by a vote of 397-0 (Roll no. 744).
CBO estimates that H.R. 573 “would have no significant cost to the federal government.”