Governor asks US senators to support Guam war claims; says local war claims bill is not in conflict with H.R. 1365

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero (PNC file photo)

To further emphasize that Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero is not opposing the war claims funding legislation of Congressman Michael San Nicolas which is now before the U.S. Senate, Adelup has released letters written by the governor to members of the U.S. Congress supporting H.R. 1365.

The letters were sent to Sen. Lindsey Graham, the U.S. Senate judiciary committee chairman, and Dianne Feinstein, ranking member of the judiciary committee.

In her letter, the governor said she was writing to “respectfully request” the U.S. Senate’s expeditious consideration of H.R. 1365, to make technical corrections to the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act (Act) (Title 17, Public Law 114-328), which was referred to the U.S. Senate’s judiciary committee on July 25, 2019.

“H.R. 1365 will provide the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) the authority to release available funds, derived from the remittance of customs duties and Federal income taxes to Guam, that are being set aside to pay Guam WWII survivor claims,” Leon Guerrero wrote.

At the same time, Leon Guerrero also mentioned the parallel efforts in the Guam Legislature to provide a local war claims fund, beseeching Congress to not see this as a conflict or negation of H.R. 1365.

“Because Treasury is unable to release available federal funds without the passage of H.R. 1365, I worked with the Guam Legislature to introduce bipartisan legislation that will create a local war claims fund and authorizing $7.5 million to make awards that have been adjudicated by the FCSC,” Leon Guerrero wrote.

However, the governor emphasized that $7.5 million is just “initial funding” and the government of Guam will not be able to absorb CBO’s estimated total cost.

For several months, the governor stated that her administration has been working closely with Trump administration officials, represented by the White House and the Departments of the Interior, Treasury, and Justice to ensure that Guam’s pending legislation would work cohesively with Treasury and had the agency’s concurrence.

“Additionally, given the Trump Administration’s support of H.R. 1365, we wanted to ensure that enacting local law in advance of Congress’s consideration of H.R. 1365 posed no conflict nor would it negate the need for its passage. No issues have arisen in our work with the Trump Administration to have us believe that either a conflict exists or negating the need for H.R. 1365,” Leon Guerrero wrote.

She added: “I am hopeful the Judiciary Committee can affirm that creating a Guam program will not replace the necessity for Congressional action nor deter the Committee’s consideration. It took Congress nearly 36 years to pass legislation providing parity, justice, and recognition for our survivors’ sacrifices and, as Governor, I will exercise my authority to expedite awards for claims pending Congress’s favorable action allowing Treasury to do so.”