Congressman Michael San Nicolas said the frustrations on the All RISE Act and what he describes as the lack of transparency over the federal funds received by GovGuam is more of an Adelup issue rather than an Organic Act issue.
The congressman was responding to a request by Sen. James Moylan asking 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.
But San Nicolas said that while he appreciates Moylan’s concern, his request needs to be balanced against all other federal dollars such as FEMA funds for emergency purposes, Medicaid and SNAP federal dollars that are administered without appropriation.
“The frustrations of the All RISE Act and the lack of local administration transparency in the $600 million spending plan of ARP funds is less of an Organic Act problem and more of a failure to act problem that falls squarely on the Leon Guerrero Administration,” San Nicolas said.
He added: “Whether it was months of delay in paying out stimulus, setting up PUA, paying Child Tax Credits, confusion in the All Rise Act, or explaining plans on expending $600 million in ARP, we need to clearly understand when the problem is federal and when the problem is local. And all of our pandemic problems thus far have been local, warranting a change in local leadership as opposed to changes to the Organic Act.”
In response, Adelup Director of Policy Rikki Orsini issued the following statement: “We are in a public health emergency. Instead of engaging in a war of words, we will continue to focus on the actual work — providing aid in the fastest and most meaningful way possible, keeping our community safe, providing rental and mortgage assistance, and continuing to pay tax refunds faster than ever before while eliminating our deficit.”