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War reparations shot down

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Guam's quest for war reparations shot down again this time even before Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo could add it as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. "I hope that some day that my republican counterparts will be clear about why my amendment was not made an order   and I also hope that they will provide greater explanation as to why we were promised an open rule this year but have anything but that today," she said.

According to Guam's congressional delegate, the House Committee on Rules, which is controlled by Republicans, issues rules for debate on legislation and controls which amendments can be considered on the floor, and during today's latest discussion on the FY2012 NDAA, The Guam World War Two Loyalty Recognition Act wasn't one of them, even despite the support of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon and Ranking Member Adam Smith for Guam war claims.

House Republicans issued a structured rule which effectively blocked the Guam war claims issue from being added to the list of amendment that were to be debated on the floor. Bordallo continued, "I rise in strong opposition to this rule. This rule does not afford the people of Guam with an opportunity to make their case about the matter of Guam war claims. Before this House, all I want and all we want is a vote, Mr. Speaker.

"In fact, I do not understand why my Republican colleagues are so concerned about allowing my amendment for a vote on the floor as is regular order. Guam war claims have passed this House five times. I have to repeat that five times and each time with overwhelming bipartisan support."

Bordallo's amendment had it been allowed to be discussed or even added to the NDAA contained compromise language that was supported by the House and Senate Armed Services Committee as well as the Obama Administration, the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior. It's the same language that was agreed too during last year's considerations of the FY11 Defense Authorization Bill, it was supported then by Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin and Ranking Member John McCain.

"Due to the objection by a small minority of senators and we were forced to agree to the defense bill by unanimous consent. Here in the House, let history note that I didn't object to the unanimous consent request last year based on the commitment of my friends across the aisle.  In fact, Chairman McKeon committed to including war claims in this year's defense bill, and I do appreciate his support, but the GOP leadership would not allow him to honor his commitment to me. This is wrong, Mr. Speaker, and a true disservice to the people of Guam," she added.

Bordallo added that the resolution of Guam war claims is so critical to maintaining support of the military buildup on Guam. "The people of Guam are going to bear the brunt of the significant impacts because of this realignment of military forces. And it is only right to bring war claims to a conclusion, this is what I hear from my constituents everyday," she stated.

Bordallo's amendment, had it been included, would have authorized payments to living survivors of the Japanese occupation of Guam during World War II, as well as the heirs of those who died during the occupation. The language excludes the descendents of survivors of the occupation or those survivors who have since passed away.

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