Updated: Apr 25
Republicans vow to address SSI for Guam
By Aurora Kohn
Gubernatorial candidate Felix Camacho and his running mate Sen. Tony Ada officially launched their campaign on Sunday, promising “unity” and “a better Guam.”
“Guam as a community can no longer live in fear. We can no longer live where our freedoms have been taken away from us,” Camacho said. “We feel that we are here to set the stage. We are here to fix things.”
He addressed supporters and fellow Republican candidates who gathered for the official opening of the Camacho-Ada 2022 campaign headquarters at what was formerly the Oriental Restaurant at Orleans Pacific Plaza in Tamuning.
“Tony and I are going to be what we call servant leaders. We are servants first, leaders second. And our concern is for the future of this island,” said the former governor, who served two terms from 2003 to 2011.
Camacho emphasized that the choices Guam makes must recognize that the island has “tremendous influence” in Micronesia.
“Guam is like the hub of the spokes of the wheel that go out. We can influence so much from this region and let us be the beacon of light. These are dark times, but all it takes is a little bit of light and that darkness goes away.”
Camacho also said a good representative in Congress is needed “to bring about equality and equity for citizens of the territories.”
Ada highlighted the significance of the Camacho-Ada 2022 campaign headquarters.
“We will make our first strides here, ladies and gentlemen, our first strides toward a direction for a better Guam. This will be a place where we know that we need to have better people because we need to bring them out of where they are at today,” Ada said.
The headquarters will serve as the venue for planning and executing the Republican campaign to bring Republican candidates to Adelup, the Guam Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives.
The campaign headquarters, which was fully decorated in the Republican colors of blue, red and white, was filled with officials and members of the party as well as supporters of the candidates.
During his introduction of Camacho and Ada, former governor Eddie Calvo observed that ”when Republican governors held office, unemployment was at 4 percent and the economy was booming."
“We were arresting the druggies and putting them in prison. I don’t know what they’re doing now because there are crimes everywhere,” Calvo added.
Calvo said it was time for a Republican team of Camacho and Ada to “fix the mess” created by the incumbent governor.
Juan Carlos Benitez, chairman of the Republican Party of Guam, said the party's candidates are seeking "to make a difference.”
He said the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of United States vs. Vaello-Madero underscored the need for Guam voters to elect the right people.
The court's decision marked the worst day for Guam in the “last 20 to 30 years," he said.
“The Supreme Court of the United States, 8 to 1, stated that our rights, our benefits can be limited by the federal government in a discriminatory manner … Did we hear one word from our governor? Did we hear one word from our legislature?” he asked.
Benitez said it was time to elect leaders in Adelup and the Guam Legislature who are prepared to make a difference.
He then presented Republican senatorial candidates Vince Borja, former Republican party general counsel Tom Fisher, former senator Jesse Lujan, Sandra Reyes Seau and Harvey Egna.
Sen. James Moylan, who is running for the delegate seat, said Guam’s inclusion in the SSI program will be one of his priorities.
“While expressing our disappointment in the SCOTUS decision is a simple approach, our office is instead committed toward pursuing some action so that this inequality may one day be addressed, and qualified island residents won’t have to relocate to the CNMI or the mainland to avail SSI benefits,” Moylan said in a statement issued Monday.
Congressman Michael San Nicolas earlier introduced H.R. 157 which extends SSI benefits to Guam. The measure has also been carved into the Build Back Better Plan. H.R. 5737, introduced by Congressman Al Lawson of Florida, and co-sponsored by San Nicolas, also seeks to address SSI benefits.
“The positive is that there are several approaches already set in the halls of Congress, thus the discussion is certainly on the table. This is a good start, now the advocacy needs to step in,” Moylan said.
“We also plan to work with Congressman San Nicolas and the Republican Party of Guam on this endeavor, as this issue requires a true bi-partisan effort. We understand that measures, particularly monumental ones, do take a while to reach fruition, whether it is within the Guam Legislature or in the United States Congress,” he added.
If neither H.R. 157 nor H.R. 5737 achieve their intended objectives this term, Moylan vowed to introduce a mirrored version of H.R. 157 if he gets elected to the delegate seat.