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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 27) - The U.S. House Resources Committee yesterday heard testimony on a long-standing issue for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands - the creation of a non-voting delegate's position to represent the CNMI's interests in Congress.

Unlike Guam and other territories with non-voting delegates, the CNMI currently has a "resident representative" in the nation's capital, with no authority to work in Congress at any level. The resident representative serves as more of a lobbyist, writing letters and talking to policy-makers, said Pete Tenorio, the commonwealth's current resident representative.

"I don't have any opportunity at all to be able to influence legislation," Tenorio said. "We are revisiting it because we feel the Northern Marianas ... deserve to have the same right of representation."

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, in a written statement, said the hearing was a good first step toward resolving the issue, and thanked committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif.

Bordallo said a bill has not been introduced to create a delegate's seat for the CNMI, but said she will work with Pombo to move the issue forward.

CNMI elected leaders and federal officials spoke at the hearing. The commonwealth first requested a non-voting delegate's seat three decades ago.

The CNMI's efforts to create a non-voting delegate were sidetracked for several years, during the administration of former Democratic CNMI Gov. Froilan Tenorio, according to Pacific Daily News files. He served from 1994 to 1998. Tenorio opposed the creation of a delegate for the CNMI, calling the position "ineffective," files state. Tenorio instead focused on buying influence in the nation's capital by spending $11 million on lobbyists, files state.

February 27, 2004

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