War claims money in Congress frittering away

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Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes (PNC file photo)

Well over $20 million dollars has been set aside in the war claims account in Congress, but the longer it sits, the more money is lost due to the payment of interest fees, according to Speaker Tina Muna Barnes.

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H.R. 1365, introduced by Congressman Michael San Nicolas, makes technical corrections to the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, (Title 17, Public Law 114-328) to address the insufficiency of the language in the original law that prevents the release of available funds that are being set aside to pay Guam WWII Survivor Claims.

“The money provided for H.R. 1365 comes from Section 30 monies and put aside in an account in the Treasury. But instead of accruing interest like any bank would when they hold on to your money, pursuant to Public Law 114-328 — also known as the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act Section 1703 – Subsection (e) — we are paying the U.S. Treasury to hold on to Guam’s money at 5 percent each fiscal year. This will continue to be deducted until a technical correction is made, and the last survivor is paid,” the Speaker said.

With well over $20 million in the account already on the low end, the Speaker said that’s roughly $1.2 million a year paid to the U.S. Treasury. While the federal government is getting a cut of the war claims, the Speaker pointed out that Guam survivors haven’t seen a dime due to the faulty language contained in the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act of 2016, hanging up the release of the funds.

At this time, H.R. 1365 has been before the U.S. Senate since July 25. It was read twice and then referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. If passed, it will then go to the President for his approval and signature for passage into law.

According to a prediction by Skopos Labs, an artificial intelligence technology company that turns unstructured data into accurate predictions, H.R. 1365 has only a 22 percent chance of being enacted.

“The overall text of the bill does little to affect its chances of being enacted. Although this bill has a low chance of enactment, there is 1 provision within this bill that the provision-level textual analysis considers likely to be enacted. There are often multiple bills with the same legal provisions within them. The bill’s primary sponsor is a Democrat. The bill is assigned to the Senate judiciary committee. The bill’s primary subject is armed forces and national security,” Skopos Labs stated.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.