Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan is the first person to represent the people of the Northern Mariana Islands in the U.S. Congress. The seat was created in 2008 by U.S. Public Law 110-229. Kilili won election that year in a field of nine candidates and began service in the 111th Congress in 2009. He was re-elected in 2010 and again in 2012, winning 80 percent of the vote.
Congressman Sablan now serves on the Natural Resources Committee, where his seniority makes him the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs. The Subcommittee is responsible for our nation’s policies governing the sea and sustainable use of fisheries, as well as for the economic development of the Northern Mariana Islands and the other insular areas. Congressman Sablan also serves on the Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee, which has oversight of the National Park Service, an important federal partner in the Northern Marianas.
In addition, Sablan is a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee. “Development of our human resources is key to the prosperity of our islands 20, 30, 40 years into the future,” Kilili believes. Membership on this committee gives him the opportunity to influence federal policy on everything from Head Start and child care for our youngest learners to Pell grants and worker training for those entering or already in the workforce. He serves on two subcommittees: the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee and the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee.
Congressman Sablan, an Independent, caucuses with the Democrats. In 2013 he was elected to be a Regional Whip in the Democratic Caucus.
He is also a member of:
A Record of Accomplishment
Over his first five years in office Congressman Sablan has been responsible for enactment of Public Law 113-34, which conveyed submerged lands to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, passage of a five-year, $33 million pilot program designed to bring the Northern Marianas into SNAP, the national food stamp program, as well as numerous other changes in federal law to include or improve allocations to the Northern Marianas, such as increasing the number of his constituents who may attend the U.S. service academies. Sablan has also been an original co-sponsor of such important laws as the EduJobs Act and the Serve America Act.
For a more detailed record go to the “Works for You” section of the Kilili for Congress website.
Before election to the U.S. Congress, Kilili held a variety of positions in the Commonwealth government. He served under three Commonwealth Governors, including Carlos S. Camacho, the very first Governor elected under the Constitution of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Kilili began his career in elective office in 1981 in the 3rd Northern Mariana Islands Legislature. While there, he was appointed as one of the Governor’s Special Representatives to funding negotiations – 702 talks – with the U.S. Department of the Interior. He and his colleagues secured tens of millions of dollars in federal assistance in a unique “front-end load” arrangement that made infrastructure development funds immediately available to the Northern Marianas.
After two terms in the Legislature, Kilili was selected for a congressional fellowship serving as a Special Assistant to the late United States Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawai’i. As a result of that experience, Kilili promised himself that, if one day the opportunity arose for the people of the Northern Mariana Islands to have representation in the U.S. Congress, he would run for that position.
Completing his appointment with Senator Inouye in Washington, Kilili attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, then returned to Saipan and served as a Special Assistant for Management and Budget in the administration of Governor Froilan C. Tenorio. Subsequently, Governor Pedro P. Tenorio appointed Kilili to be Executive Director of the Commonwealth Election Commission, a position he discharged with transparency, accountability, and impartiality for more than 10 years.
In 2008, the opportunity Kilili had envisioned twenty years before finally came to be; U.S. Public Law 110-229 gave the people of the Northern Mariana Islands a seat in Congress. Kilili gave up his lifetime appointment with the Election Commission to run for the congressional office. He won by 357 votes.
Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan took the oath of office in the U.S. Capitol on January 3, 2009, becoming the Northern Mariana Islands’ first Delegate to the House of Representatives. Today, he is the only Chamorro and the only Micronesian member of the U.S. Congress.
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan was born on the island of Saipan on January 19, 1955. He is one of seven children. At the age of 11 he was sent to Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia to attend Xavier High School, which was then the only high school in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. As the sole Chamorro student, Kilili learned quickly the skills needed to get along with people of different backgrounds and cultures, skills still valuable to him today. When a high school opened on Saipan, Kilili returned home, graduating with a class three years ahead of his age.
Kilili began college studies at the University of Guam before transferring to the University of California at Berkeley, but had to return home without completing a degree, when his father lost his job.
Kilili is married to Andrea Sablan, and has six children.