San Nicolas: US Treasury still trying to reconcile local war claims program

Photo shows the temporary war claims processing center in Tamuning. A resolution has been introduced in the legislature to reopen the war claims application process. (PNC file photo)

The Government of Guam is still waiting for reimbursement of the $11 million in local taxpayer funds used to pay war claims at the start of this year.

In January, the Governor announced that the Treasury Department had signed off on a Memorandum of Agreement clearing the way for the local war claims program and promising to reimburse GovGuam for the local funds used to pay some claims.

During his online news conference on May 13, Wednesday morning, Congressman Michael San Nicolas said the Treasury Department is still trying to reconcile the local program.

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“This kind of circles back to why I was always kind of going off about the local program potentially causing delays. Right now, Treasury is still working to reconcile the local program. And there’s been some issues with that. I’m even getting constituents reaching out to me saying ‘Hey Congressman, I signed over my war claim to the local government am I going to get paid?’ And I’m telling them ‘No you’re not. If you signed it over, the local government needs to pay you.’ And so they’re coming back to me saying ‘Well that’s not what they’re telling me. They’re saying I need to go to you.’ There’s just a lot of back and forth that’s just not helping the claimant,” San Nicolas said.

San Nicolas was a critic of the local war claims program which he warned could interfere with his own war claims correction bill, H.R. 1365. President Trump didn’t sign that measure into law until March 27.

After that, the local war claims program was ended. Treasury was then supposed to reimburse GovGuam for what it spent to pay out war claims with local taxpayer funds. But the Treasury Department has not yet done so.