Republican senators walk out to protest handling of war claims bill error

Many seats were empty during Friday's legislative session after five Republican senators walked out in protest of the handling of the war claims bill error.

By Ceejay Pilarca

In the name of transparency, several Republican senators walked out of session Friday because they said the majority party doesn’t want to make public discussions on how an error on the latest war claims legislation was made.

Bill 130-36 (COR) was meant to compensate eligible living war survivors for suffering the atrocities of war but had missed the deadline for the earlier War Compensation Act. The deadline for the application of that law, called the Guam World War Two Loyalty Recognition Act, was December 23, 2016.

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The Reconciliation Act of 2021 reopened those applications. And, in keeping with the promise of the former law, would compensate war survivors who had died earlier.

In the hearing for Bill 130-36, Speaker Therese Terlaje introduced an amendment to extend those war compensations to every war survivor. The specific language used was “regardless of date of death.”

The amendment received some support from other senators. Despite the support, the amendment failed.

However, by some clerical error, the failed amendment was included in the bill that was signed into law.

Under the Guam World War Two Reconciliation Act of 2021, the governor of Guam must submit an implementation plan for the payments of war claims to claimants regardless of the date of death, rather than to claimants whose date of death is past December 23, 2016.

During Friday’s session, Republican senators Tony Ada, Frank Blas Jr., Joanne Brown, Chris Duenas, and Telo Taitague walked out.

Taitague said the reason for their walkout was because the majority refused to publicly explain how a huge mistake of placing an amendment into a bill that was never passed, and then sent to the governor, happened in the first place.

Senator Taitague said they had wanted public input on the matter and stressed that the walkout was made to maintain transparency with the public.