AUDIO: Guam War Claims Losing to NMI CW, Other Omnibus Territories Provisions

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Washington, D.C. – Guam War Claims may be the loser in any effort to get an Omnibus Territories Bill out of the Senate and before a House panel.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources reported the Omnibus Territories Bill to the full Senate last December. The panel just took formal action to prepare the bill including Guam War Claims and an NMI CW Transitional Worker Program extension for floor action. But before a floor vote, the objections of four panel Republicans over Guam War Cliams and a local matching waiver of small grants, would have dropped.

HEAR Matt Kaye’s report HERE>>> Guam War Claims Losing Out 

Top Energy Republican Lisa Murkowski in December said, “On S.1237, the Omnibus Territories, Senator Alexander has asked to be recorded as ‘no,’ as well as Senator Lee and Senator Scott…and Senator Barrasso.” 

It will take all 100 senators to get the bill on the floor using the most streamlined procedure, known as “unanimous consent” and that would likely take the promise of a floor amendment to drop Guam War Claims and the local matching waiver.

Staffers say it’s doable, but could take several weeks – time the NMI lacks as it still waits for Labor Secretary Tom Perez to decide whether to extend ‘CW’ for some 10-thousand local jobs before the program lapse the end of the year. 

Companion Legislation in the House hasn’t even had a hearing, and could also face conservative opposition in an election year, even with Guam’s Madeleine Bordallo argues the estimated $80-million cost is paid for through Section 30 tax rebates to Guam. 

Meantime, House Natural Resources has set a hearing for April 29th on a freestanding bill by Congressman Sablan to extend the CW Program through 2019. 

Ranking Member on the Insular Affairs Subcommittee, Sablan earlier met with resistance from Full Panel Chair DOC Hastings to the omnibus territories. 

Sablan said, “Well, we understand, in the past, Doc Hastings has said, there’s no ‘omnibus territories’…there’s nothing ‘omnibus’…he just doesn’t agree with omnibus.  But I asked him…if the Senate bill were to come down here, would he consider it…and, he was open to it.”

The bill and Sablan’s freestanding bill are key for CW workers, in case Labor Secretary Tom Perez does not extend the CW transition period past the end of year – a decision now before the secretary. 

Also in the omnibus bill, a preference for Guam’s U.S. citiens over legal aliens for housing and extension of a long-term NMI foreign investor program and continued NMI exemption for accepting asylum applications.