Speaker: ‘No solution was proffered and session was impeded by repeated walkouts’

Speaker Therese Terlaje (PNC file photo)

Speaker Therese Terlaje issued a statement Friday evening on the walkouts by five Republican senators during session today.

According to the GOP senators, they walked out because the majority party refused to discuss publicly how the error in the engrossment of the Guam World War II Reconciliation Act of 2021 was made.

But in her statement, Speaker Terlaje said that as a result of the walkouts, no solution to the issue was proffered and session was impeded.

“While colleagues have made accusations in the media that the clerical error was intentional, corrupt, and sowing seeds of distrust, I remain committed to honoring the credibility of this institution, the tenet of attorney-client privilege, as well as the will of this body to provide a productive solution by majority vote,” Terlaje said.

After being alerted to an error in the engrossment of Bill 130-36 (COR), the Speaker said her office worked with the Committee on Rules and central staff to determine the cause of the clerical error and to identify any gaps that could be closed in the legislature’s administrative processes.

“The Clerk’s Office provided a verbal and written timeline of what transpired on Bill 130 and the error that was made,” Terlaje said.

The Speaker added that she promptly issued a news release to the media to assure the people of Guam that there was a concerted effort to find out how the error happened and that she was assured by the Acting Chairperson of the Committee on Rules, Senator Amanda Shelton, that measures were being put in place to ensure it will not be duplicated.

In addition, the Speaker said P.L. 36-34, authored by Senator Joanne Brown, requires that the agenda be properly noticed. Terlaje said Bill 130-36 (COR) was not included as an agenda item on the Legislature’s notice which was published on October 15 and 19, 2021. She also said that actions on the floor require eight votes.

“I understand the calls for accountability from our Republican colleagues and hope they see this as an opportunity to improve upon our processes and not to threaten the livelihoods of these employees over a clerical error or to create chaos instead of a solution. The Committee on Rules should implement changes to prevent future errors,” the Speaker said.