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Action demanded from Congress on Compact-impact

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - For decades, island leaders have raised concern over the shortfall of Compact impact reimbursements. And today is no different as a handful of senators again call for congressional action to help move the matter forward. Recognizing that the federal government has not met its obligation to offset the true financial impact of the Compacts of Free Association, island leaders are calling for some congressional action.

"Essentially what the resolution does is respectfully requests for the congresswoman introduce legislation on annual basis for reimbursement for the people of Guam of $50 million recognizing the long standing debt of over $500 million to the people of Guam for the excess requirements that are required to host the FSM community on Guam," said Senator Chris Duenas. And as this has been a long standing issue, as the senator says it's time to step up our game. "I wanted to make sure that we did everything we possibly could to have our story heard in congress and to say we tried every effort to show that the Compact impact costs is really causing to this point and today now really causing a devastating effect on our government's ability to provide services to our people," he explained.

Along with the annual appropriation, the resolution calls for a congressional hearing to be held on Guam.

Federated States of Micronesia acting consul general Robson Romolow meanwhile says about 18,000 citizens from the Freely Associated States have since migrated to Guam and can understand the toll placed on GovGuam. "Guam doesn't have anything to do with this because it's a treaty between the US and was agreed and discussed between the US and the FSM government, but the impact has impacted the Guam community and I strongly support the bill that Senator Duenas has put forward," he said.

And reiterating statements from FSM president Emmanuel Mori, Romolow hopes those who now call Guam their home will become productive citizens in the community. "If the numbers have increased of a productive citizen for our citizens it will also have a great impact in decreasing the expenses in the areas that are affected, so I would encourage each citizen from our Freely Associated States especially FSM and our sister states Palau and RMI to encourage our citizens to be productive and be a good, law abiding citizens in the community," he said.

The resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Tony Ada, Tommy Morrison, Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz, Michael Limtiaco and Brant McCreadie. 

Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo said of the matter, "I look forward to meeting with local leaders during my next district work period to discuss the progress we have made on Compact impact and the political realities of moving this particular proposal through the Republican-controlled House in these fiscally austere times. Republicans continue to oppose all new spending measures. Despite this, I have joined Congresswomen Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii and Congressman Eni Faleomavaega from Samoa in introducing legislation that increases annual Compact-impact assistance to the affected jurisdictions from $30 million to $185 million. I also continue to work with my colleagues to pursue other legislative measures to address the Compact-impact issue."

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