Senator James Moylan has asked Congressman Michael San Nicolas for help in amending the Organic Act to authorize the legislature to appropriate federal funds provided to Guam.
With over $600 million in federal relief funds currently on island, along with the millions of additional dollars which Guam received in 2020 due to the pandemic, Moylan said that the archaic language in the Organic Act regarding the authority over the local appropriation of federal dollars provided to Guam should be amended.
“Presently this authority is granted to the Governor of Guam. However, it is becoming evidently clear that legislative involvement is also needed,” Moylan stated in his letter.
According to Moylan, several state legislatures have been involved with the spending of their respective state’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds and the 36th Guam Legislature has been requesting the Leon Guerrero administration for a spending plan.
“Here we are in August with the budget discussion period upon us, and the administration has failed to provide any fiscal information with the federal monies. The legislature has also presented the Governor with a proposed plan (at the request of the Governor) on how to spend the ARP funds, but that process seemed to have been ceremonial at best,” the senator said.
Moylan said it is possible that the intent at the time the Organic Act was written was to assure that the Naval Governor held authority over how federal funds would be appropriated on the island.
“However, we are now in 2021 and it is time to modernize some of the provisions of the Organic Act. This request is not exclusive to just the spending of the ARP funds, but any general appropriation provided to the government of Guam from the federal government,” he said.
Moylan pointed out that the legislative process would involve the inclusion of the community, as it would require a public hearing.
“It would also open the opportunity for the legislative branch to work cohesively with the executive branch to serve a mirrored objective. Further, it would promote transparency and ‘checks and balances,’ both of which seem to be missing in the equation with first the CARES Act, and now the ARP,” he said.
Considering that only Congress has the authority to amend the Organic Act, and hence this recommendation, Moylan said he is requesting the consideration of San Nicolas in addressing this concern and providing the Guam Legislature the authority to appropriate federal dollars provided to Guam on a general level.
“I will be reaching out to my colleagues in the 36th Guam Legislature to consider a resolution which I plan on introducing to attain not only the public’s input but also the position of Senators on the issue,” Moylan said.
He added: “While the CARES Act and ARP funds are certainly a genesis of this letter, amending the Organic Act when it comes to providing the Guam Legislature more authority with federal dollars, certainly has some long-term benefits for the island community, particularly from a transparency perspective.”