Democratic News

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to examine the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in U.S. territories. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member of the Committee, highlighted efforts Congress has taken to address concerns over COVID-19’s influence on the territories.

“The island economies are taking a hard hit as a result of the pandemic. Over the past few months, Congress has passed four pieces of legislation providing authority and funding necessary for COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts. This has resulted in over $2 trillion in new direct spending for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Small Business Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services, and many other federal agencies and entities. We worked hard to ensure that the territories were included and eligible for this funding and the various federal programs engaged in the response to the pandemic. While there have been some economic relief success stories, I know our work is far from over as I continue to hear from families, small business owners, nonprofits, local governments, healthcare providers, and front line workers across the country who are not getting the help they desperately need now,” Ranking Member Manchin said.

Ranking Member Manchin questioned witnesses on the challenges facing America’s territories and what they will need as they combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The economy is struggling in all states and all territories. We know the economy is not going to come back until people feel safe with an antibody or a vaccine. With the economy not coming back the way we’d all like it to, what is the greatest concerns you have? Is it being able to sustain citizens with food, being able to sustain your health care services, what is your greatest need?” Ranking Member Manchin asked.

“Our eviction moratoriums are expiring soon, as is the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. We are going to be facing multiple threats. Food is a definite need and so is healthcare. It is all multi-faceted. The reality is that until our economies are working again, we will need rental assistance, housing assistance. Absent any additional COVID relief similar to the CARES Act, particularly with our tourism orientated economies, we are all going to be a very bad place,” said Congressman San Nicolas.

“In the case of Puerto Rico, I think that PPE is very important. Healthcare is also one of the most important, in terms of Medicare. And of course, food assistance through SNAP,” said Congresswoman Gonzalez-Colon.

“In the Northern Mariana Islands, we have a cap on Medicaid like the rest of the territories. We will also see things like PPE running out in a very short time,” said Congressman Sablan.

“Senator, I believe it is economic. We need support for unemployment and equitable treatment if there is additional funding to states. We need to have that same amount of funding going to the territories, which are going to take a long time in coming back up,” said Congresswoman Plaskett.

“The short answer is that we need everything. As a matter of fact, I would say almost 90% of goods and supplies are important. Many of the things that are taken for granted are things that we in the territories have a tremendous need for,” said Congresswoman Radewagen.


The hearing featured testimony from Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands), Congresswoman Amata Coleman Radewagen (American Samoa), Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (U.S. Virgin Islands), Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (Puerto Rico), and Congressman Michael San Nicolas (Guam). To read their testimony click here.  

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.