Senator Blas Urges Interior to Resolve Compact Reimbursement Before Lawsuit is Filed

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Guam – Senator Frank Blas Jr. is urging  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to resolve Guam’s Compact Impact reimbursement claims before a lawsuit is filed seeking full payment of the more than $300 million Blas claims the U.S. owes to Guam.

Blas says he wrote a letter to Salazar citing an analysis of a provision in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that determined that the federal government may have admitted liability for the unreimbursed costs Guam has expended to deal with the impact of Micronesian immigrants to the island.

Read Senator Blas’ Letter to DOI Secretary Salazar

In his letter, Blas wrote, “Based on the language of the provision, there appears to be an “Admission of Liability” by the United States government on the amounts owed to the Government of Guam for costs associated to the Compacts of Free Association. As a result, there is currently a discussion on the possibility of filing suit for the costs and damages relating to the unreimbursed amounts.”

Blas says he has already had discussions with the Governor’s Chief Policy Advisor, Attorney Arthur Clark, and Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz on the possibility of filing a lawsuit.

But Blas says in his letter that a lawsuit may not be necessary,  if DOI initiates “a prioritized and committed effort to address and resolve the matter.”

Read Senator Blas’ news release in full below:

BLAS URGES INTERIOR SECRETARY TO RESOLVE COMPACT REIMBURSEMENT ISSUE BEFORE SUIT IS FILED

HAGATNA – Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. sent a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today urging that the federal government resolve the Compact Impact reimbursement issue before a suit is filed. Blas states that what prompted him to write the letter was an analysis of a provision in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that determined that the federal government may have admitted liability to the unreimbursed costs.

In his letter, Blas wrote, “Based on the laguage of the provision, there appears to be an “Admission of Liability” by the United States government on the amounts owed to the Government of Guam for costs associated to the Compacts of Free Association. As a result, there is currently a discussion on the possibility of filing suit for the costs and damages relating to the unreimbursed amounts.”

According to Blas, he has had discussions with Governor Eddie Calvo’s Chief Policy Advisor, Attorney Arthur Clark, on the possibility of filing a suit, and has recently had similar discussions with his colleague in the 31st Guam Legislature, Senator B.J. Cruz. In a March 28, 2011 letter to Governor Calvo, Senator Cruz suggested that the Governor file an immediate lawsuit and seek relief for at least $300 Million.

Blas stated in his letter to the Secretary that a lawsuit may not be necessary if a prioritized and committed effort to address and resolve the matter was initiated. He further wrote that the effort could be initiated in advance of the completion of a Government Accountability Office study that he believed will affirm Guam’s unreimbursed claims.

Blas informed Secretary Salazar that the need to aggressively employ means to recoup Compact impact costs was predicated on the need to address the quality of life issues for island residents that could no longer be marginalized or ignored. Blas states, “With the money owed by the federal government, we could sufficiently address the tax returns owed to our people and make those necessary improvements to our aging government services infrastructure.”

Blas ended his letter by writing, “I have been consistent and undeterred in my efforts to discuss and resolve this issue, and with the opportunity presented by the NDAA provision that admits to a substantial reimbursement amount, I encourage an immediate means to an amicable resolution.”