H.R. 4262, introduced by Congressman Michael San Nicolas, is very different from H.R. 1365 and is a step “backward” for Guam, former congressman Robert Underwood said.
In an interview with Patti Arroyo on NewsTalk K57, Underwood said H.R. 4262 will not go through Congress as easily as H.R. 1365, which only seeks to make technical corrections to the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act.
H.R. 4262 seeks to entwine Guam law with the Organic Act to ensure tax refund deposits and expedite tax refund payments.
Underwood said that unlike H.R. 1365, amending the Organic Act is more complicated and controversial.
“They’ll have to have a public hearing because it’s a bill that has controversy,” Underwood said.
Both Underwood and Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero have described H.R. 4262 as “backward.”
The governor said the congressman’s actions are against what Guam is trying to do with regard to self-determination and are sending a message of confusion to the U.S. Congress and the United Nations at a time when Guam is working toward self-determination.
She added that the issue that the congressman is hanging his plan on — tax refunds — is already being addressed because the administration is already paying refunds in a timely manner.
The governor also stressed that the congressman’s proposal weakens the argument that the government of Guam is a mature government that is capable of independent governance.
Underwood said almost all the amendments to the Organic Act were meant to increase the government of Guam’s capacity to manage its affairs and H.R. 4262 is doing the opposite.
“It’s saying we’re incompetent here on Guam and we can’t manage our money,” Underwood said.
He added that the bill may gain some political points, but as a policy call, it’s backward.
In response, Congressman San Nicolas issued the following statement:
“I am the people’s elected representative in Congress and I am the one introducing the measure. If not being able to vote on a bill somehow invalidates its merits then by that logic we shouldn’t be introducing anything in Congress and that is absolutely insensible. Anyone who tries to make that an issue is just grasping at straws to maintain a broken status quo.
“The only thing backward is when the entire country gets their tax refunds paid in 6 weeks while our people wait six months or more.
“It is telling that the same leaders with the same fervor to pursue a risky and redundant local war claims plan are glaringly opposed when it comes to paying tax refunds. Obviously the local government is not committed to fixing this. And so I will work to fix it.”