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Full transcript of Guam Del. James Moylan's congressional address



Delivered before the 37th Guam Legislature on July 1, 2024 at the Guam Congress Building in Hagata,



It is a great honor and privilege to speak to you from this historic chamber tonight as we reflect on the work of your Congressional Office over the past 18 months.


Before I continue tonight's address, I would like to express a few things. Governor Leon Guerrero, I want to thank you for your partnership. A congressional office is only as effective as its relationship with its state government, as it allows for better communication, which is crucial for improving the lives of our people.

 

Secondly, I would like to announce that the state of the island's relationship between Congress and the federal government is strong, it is healthy, and it is resurrected!


We are active, we are engaged, and most importantly, we are seeing results. 

Because at the end of the day, Results matter.  


Just a little more than 18 months ago, I began my term as your delegate to Congress, embarking on a new journey, with the intent of marking a

monumental and size-mic shift for our island, our nation, and our people. Considering where Guam's image was at the time, we also knew where we had to start from the ground up.

 

From day one we forged relationships, and shared Guam's story with Members and Committee staffers, from leadership down to freshmen, regardless of party affiliation. We brought the idea of "inafa maolek" to the nation's capital, at a time when it was greatly needed.

 

This value has guided my decision-making in Congress and I am happy to report to you, the people of Guam, about the monumental steps we have taken as a community toward improving our island for generations to come.

 

Our island has a long history and relationship with the U.S. military, and we are proud to have one of the highest enlistment rates and veterans per capita. Many of our island's  greatest  generation,  the  manamko,  are  proud veterans who have served our country with the highest levels of courage and honor.


Like myself, Sens. Joe San Agustin, Dwayne San Nicolas, Tom Fisher, and all

veterans, we answered the call to serve our nation in pursuit of a greater future

 for all who call Guam and the United States home.

 

As a society, we must treat our veterans with the dignity and respect they deserve. Senators San Agustin, San Nicolas, and Fisher, thank you for your service.

 

Immediately after swearing in, my office was aggressive in sending reminders 

to the Department of Veterans Affairs to request them to activate the Veterans

 Advisory Committee for the Territories and Freely Associated States. Why? Because this committee would have immediate access to the Secretary of the VA, and the concerns of our veterans could be personally hand-carried to his front door.


After six months, I am happy to report that of the several nominees we submitted to represent Guam on this commission, that two individuals were selected.

 

First, there is Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, who has served honorably in the Guam Legislature for nine terms and has a long tenure of service for the people of Guam. She is also the spouse of the late Jake Barnes, a veteran who could not receive critical medical care in Guam, for which he deserved.


Also, Mr. Vince Borja, a decorated soldier, and one who volunteers his time to help his fellow brothers and sisters in the process to ensure they don't lose out on veteran's benefits.

 

Vice Speaker Barnes, and Vince, thank you for accepting the call to action, and thank you for advocating for our veterans. I look forward to continuing to work with you

 

Our veterans deserve no less than the care any veteran receives across the nation.


This is why we requested the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Congressman Mike Bost to visit Guam, so he and senior staff could truly understand the issues our veterans face, including the issues at the Community Based Outpatient Center, or CBOC.

 

Their trip resulted in a strongly worded letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which clearly reiterated that we meant business.


Since then, we have brought together and are working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System

 and the Region 21 office of the Veterans Integrated Systems Network, to address avenues to improve the care and services which our veterans deserve right here on the island.


We are happy to announce that along with the expansion of a 5,000 square footage CBOC in Dededo, which is set to open in 2025, there will also be an

 expansion of the current CBOC for more point of care testing.


To address the parking challenges, VAPHICS is formalizing an agreement

 with the Naval Hospital Guam to not only utilize their parking lot, but to establish a shuttle to bring veterans from their vehicles to the CBOC.

 

Speaking of the Naval Hospital Guam, I am excited to share that a formal shared agreement is being finalized to provide veterans greater care at the hospital. This will include radiology, pharmaceutical, and ancilary services in the interim, with additional services eventually.

 

We will continue to pursue greater care including inpatient services at the Naval Hospital Guam.


Yes, I stand with you that we eventually need a Veterans Medical Center or a facility for additional services. However,  we can only get there if we increase  our enrollment numbers under the Veterans Health Administration.


Today we have under 6,000 veterans in Guam enrolled, while we have over

 20,000 veterans registered with Guam Veterans Affairs Office.

 

I encourage my fellow veterans to visit the CBOC and enroll with the VHA. 


While you may not need the services for whatever reasons, maybe because you have private or federal insurance, or are content with your VBA benefits, but we have veterans who do need the additional care.

 

Let's enroll to help them, because when we wore the uniform the mantra we were reminded of is no man left behind.


It is easier to expand the capacity of care if we have an increased number of VHA enrollees. Don't let politicians tell you otherwise.


Many veterans have shared their concerns with the VA's travel policy, specifically

that a veteran can't obtain a VA paid flight beyond Hawaii.


I have been provided an assurance from the very office which approves the

travel, that if the needed care is not available in Hawaii, they will take you somewhere in the mainland where it is.


If you are facing a challenge with this issue, please don't hesitate to reach out to

 my office, and I will personally send a message to VAPHICS to seek answers for you.

 

We recently announced Veterans Transportation Services, which is a service

 by the VA to transport veterans from their homes to their VA appointments and treatments.

 

I am happy to report that we are in conversation with the VAPHICS and they are in the process of procuring a second shuttle bus. Getting veterans to their appointments is critical, and I thank Senators Joanne Brown and Telo Taitague for not just reiterating this message, but acting on it, through legislation.

 

Speaking of transportation, I am happy to announce that HR 522, which we introduced last year, has been marked up, and should be on the floor of the House of Representatives shortly for a vote.


If enacted, veterans in Guam can avail themselves of adaptive vehicles at no cost, as the legislation includes shipping as part of the program.


Thank you, Senator Dwayne San Nicolas, for introducing a resolution to secure the support of the Guam Legislature on this measure and thank you for your partnership.


Once again, getting veterans reasonable access to their appointments is a priority.

 

Before I get to other topics, I also want to reiterate that we led or co-led many amendments in the House Veterans Affairs Appropriation bill, to increase funding for care in such areas as mental health, suicide prevention, PTSD, prosthetics, and extended care facilities.

 

We are only getting started when it comes to our veterans.


I am also excited to announce that earlier last month, the House passed the FY 2025 NDAA, which included three of my amendments that would authorize the President to award Medals of Honor to three heroic sons of Guam for their acts of valor and courage displayed during the Vietnam War.

 

Other than a review by the board in 2018, to see if these three brave men were deserving of the distinction, this is the furthest Guam has experienced such an opportunity to end this injustice that has persisted for over 60 years.


These men are: Command Sergeant Major  Martin Manglona (LEFT)Sergeant Major Juan Ogo Blaz and the late Sergeant Joseph Meno Perez.

 

Let's give them a standing ovation for their bravery and making Guam proud.

Thank you for your service.

 

If enacted, they would not only be the first Guamanian recipients of the military's highest recognition, but this would open the doors for so many of our sons and daughters who are also qualified for this prestigious award.

 

I want to thank:

 

Former Congressman Robert Underwood US Marine Colonel Danny Santos Jr.

and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Bill Cundiff for working with

my office and providing historical data and valuable input on this endeavor.


Regarding National Defense, there is no denying Guam's strategic role in the

Indo-Pacific region. However, I have and will continue to educate and remind members that we are more than just an island of military installations.


We are an island community that embodies the Hafa Adai Spirit. Our people are patriotic, proud, cultural, and respectful, and this is why in 2023 we were able to bring out three congressional delegations to Guam, including a historic

field hearing last August, as members of Congress want to not just hear the stories, but to see it firsthand.

 

In April, another group stopped by, and there will be more to visit later this 

year.  These trips allow us to spend time on a personal level with other members and build relationships.

 

This is what leads to the results Guam experienced in both the final 2024 NDAA and the 2025 version which just passed the House and many have labeled as being Guam-centric.


However, there is no denying that there are tensions in the region, and Guam plays, just as we have been historically, a pivotal role in this process.

 

This is why my No. 1 priority in Congress is to protect our community and our island.


As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have made the case to the federal government that Guam, our people, and our nation must be protected at all costs.


To address this, I have worked to ensure that our island receives adequate

treatment, resources, and assistance from the federal government.


Our home and people are under constant threat from foreign enemies in the Indo-Pacific, and attention to our island has reached an all-time high.

 

If there is ever a time to not only strengthen our island's military capabilities, but also leverage opportunities for infrastructure, it is now!


In the past two NDAA's, I led and was successful in the efforts to increase the budget for the Guam Missile Defense, to protect our island and community.


This funding goes into a variety of funds for missile defense, and in the latest NDAA, we were able to increase the budget by $180 million dollars to ensure the Missile Defense Agency is adequately funded to meet its obligations.

 

Yes, there are many questions from the community, and there is a 

comment period that ends in early August, and our office will continue to engage with the MDA to allow the conversation to remain transparent so we

can share that with you.


I also want to emphasize that the Guam Missile Defense is not meant to play war games or be utilized as an agitator for foreign enemies.  Remember, it is a missile defense and not offense.


I have had the privilege to personally work on two NDAAs. Many of my key legislative priorities have been accomplished through amendments in these large legislative vehicles.


Madam Speaker, and Members of the 37th Guam Legislature, I am happy to report that in the Fiscal Year 2024 NDAA, we worked with the committee to secure over $3.2 billion in economic activity for Guam. And in the very recent version, another $1.8 billion was included. This is over  $5 billion over 

a two-year period.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an economic surge for Guam. This means job creation, opportunities for small business to avail contracts, and an increase in disposable income for many in the community.


This ALSO means an increase in tax collections over the next few fiscal years.

Senator Joe San Agustin, I am happy to report that your committee on appropriations is going to have more funds collected to address deficiencies in public safety, healthcare, and education.

 

Having worked with you in the previous two legislatures, I have the utmost trust in the efforts of you and your team. Thank you Senator San Agustin.


Senator Chris Barnett, this also means there will be more funds to work  with

 to address the deficiencies in our public schools. This is an issue you have championed since you started serving in your capacity as a legislator.


But of course, these efforts would not have been possible without the partnership of the Joint Region Marianas and its Commander at the time, Rear Admiral Gregory Huffman. Thank you for your partnership, your friendship, and your commitment to Guam and its community.

 

We wish you the best in your new role as the Commander of the Joint Task Force Micronesia, and I look forward to working with Rear Admiral Brent  DeVore moving forward.


I also would like to thank my good friend Juan Carlos Benitez  who  has  been  an  informative  and  effective congressional liaison for the JRM, and has

certainly helped forge this working relationship.


One of the key successes we experienced in 2023 was securing an extension

 of the H-2B visa program for another five years.

 

Considering the challenges the nation was and is facing with the southern border crisis, this was no easy task, as congressional leadership was very cautious on proceeding with policies, which included visas, specifically, extensions.

 

We were fortunate to explain our unique situation when it comes to the demand for skilled labor, versus the supply which we have on island.


Guam does not have the luxury of recruiting skilled labor with U.S. passports from the next county, the next city, or the next state.


While I commend the Guam Trades Academy and the Guam Contractors

 Association for training island residents, the reality is that the demand requires thousands of skilled laborers, and unfortunately, we are only graduating a small percentage of that number.


Nonetheless, we were successful with the efforts, and I do want to emphasize

 that after numerous discussions with the Guam Department of Labor, contractors can file for H2B skilled labor for projects both inside and outside the military installations. I urge contractors to reach out to our office if any questions arise.

 

Yes, you can seek labor to build homes, commercial structures and so much more. With the opportunity of securing labor, contractors can bid for local projects as well, and when this happens, costs can be negotiated, and when negotiations are on the table, the consumer wins!

 

The need for the H2B visa extension was even more critical after Typhoon 

Mawar, as families and businesses needed to make much-needed repairs.

But we aren't out of the woods yet on this issue. An increase in H2B skilled labor will nonetheless allow for an infusion in withholding tax collections for the local government, but we still need to address their housing shortages.

 

Madam Speaker, I urge you to review Guam's zoning laws and permitting

 processes. We need to build more barracks to house these workers, versus having vacant homes and apartment units rented out in volume.


Zoning laws need to be revised and expedited permitting processes need to be explored. This is a growing concern where solutions are needed today.


Speaking of the expansion of the H2B language to address other occupations, such as amending the language for the medical field, or even expanding it to the service industry, our office has started the conversations.


However, once again, this is not an issue, which will be addressed this term, as the focus continues to be the southern border.

 

But we are placing a foundation through discussion of the issue with other Members and Committee Staff, as a labor shortage across the board, from servers at restaurants to housekeepers in hotels, is a possible crisis in the

 making in Guam.

 

Before I speak about housing, I do want to take this time to thank Senators Chris Duenas and Roy Quinata for their efforts to champion policy associated with bringing down the costs of housing for island residents. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.


I also want to thank former senator and current director of GHURA, Fernando Esteves for continuously sharing valuable information on housing, and for

 engaging with our office. We are inserting housing studies as per your request in one of the upcoming appropriation measures.


There is no secret, we have a housing shortage in Guam. This crisis impacts both servicemembers and island residents alike, and when military personnel are provided allowances, it creates a costing challenge that hurts the working class.

 

This is why I have and am continuing to work with the House Armed Services Committee to reduce the impact of military service members on our local housing inventory. We are doing this by providing more housing inside the fence, and the last two NDAA's have experienced over $500 million in

 construction.

 

We have also advocated for additional authority for the Department of Defense to seek derelict structures, including hotels or apartment units, with the intent of long- term leases, or outright purchases. The military's housing needs will be in the thousands, and it is important to think ahead.

 

To add to this, in the latest NDAA, our amendment to increase the funding for DoD infrastructure purchases up to $20 million per transaction was approved.


For every effort to reduce the demand for additional military housing, the cost of our housing outside the fence will be more realistic and attainable for the average Guam family.


This is a challenge we are and will continue to engage in, and I thank my congressional colleagues for their support.


Speaking of the NDAA, I am also happy to report that in the latest version, our amendment to secure $140 million to improve Defense Access Roads was included.

 

In Guam, this is essentially almost every exterior lane on Marine Corps Drive and will go a long way to making our roads safer and more reliable. I want to

thank DPW Director Vince Arriola and his team for their efforts and partnership. With these funds along with other federal and local allocations, they can certainly expand their projects throughout the rest of 2024 and all of 2025. Thank you, Director Arriola.

 

I am also happy to report that our amendment to secure $167 million for the

Guam Glass Breakwater was also included. This critical infrastructure is one

 storm away from being destroyed, and any further damage will adversely impact civilian and military vessels. Yes, this could further impact our cost of goods.


A series of amendments which I am proud to have introduced, and which also passed in the House version of the NDAA, focused on the Guam National Guard.

This was unprecedented, but it was important to note that our sons and

daughters in the Guard  deserve to be elevated when it comes to their role in

protecting our homeland.


I want to thank Adjutant General and former Lt. Governor, Dr. Mike Cruz for

not  just advocating for the guard, but fighting for Guam's seat at DoD's table.

 These amendments are a product of thorough discussions with him and his senior leadership.

 

One of the amendments would require the opportunity for the TAG to have a role with the Joint Task Force Micronesia.

 

We have also included language requiring that the DoD establish an emergency plan for Guam and our civilian population in the event of a crisis.


This includes an evacuation plan, an understanding of how medicine, food, and other critical supplies would be distributed. The plan would have to be thorough and include the protection of Guam's port and other critical infrastructures.


I am also happy to report that one of the approved amendments would provide $10 million for the Guam Guard to harden a facility to keep their lifesaving and warfighting capabilities operational.


We also submitted an amendment, which was approved, for a feasibility study for the establishment of an Army Reserve Center in Palau. If enacted, this would provide a greater role for our Guard units who have a state partnership with the Republic of Palau.

 

I also want to state that the 2025 NDAA does have pay raises for our service members, and the Guam Guard members will qualify as well.


While I fully support and advocate for the military buildup in Guam, I am also committed to ensuring that we do this responsibly, taking all necessary steps to ensure that the buildup does not negatively impact our land, resources, or environment. We have and will continue to oppose any effort that does otherwise.

 

In this current NDAA, we have approved provisions which would allow for 

partnerships between federal entities such as USEPA, and Fish and Wildlife, to work with local authorities on the permitting process.


The permitting and inspections process for projects, both inside and outside the fence face many challenges, which impacts projects from moving forward.


These MOUs would allow the federal government to utilize federal manpower

to address inspections for military construction, thus freeing up the local

agencies to focus on civilian undertakings.


But I want to reiterate, and I am certain that Senator Sabina Perez would be

 happy to learn of this, that by no means will this require the bypassing of any local or federal law or regulation. In fact, all environmental inspections will be required.

 

In the FY 2024 NDAA, I have also expanded the number of students our office can nominate to the U.S. Service Academies. These institutions provide our sons and daughters with a rigorous college education in exchange for their service in our armed services.

 

This year, of the many nominations, we submitted, four of Guam's students will be attending these prestigious colleges. These young people have answered the call to serve our island and our nation. We are proud of their accomplishments

 and pray for them as they begin this new chapter of their lives.


The defense of Guam is a complex issue that also exceeds just military power; protecting our island is also done through diplomacy and dialogue with our neighbors in the region.


Last month, I was appointed by Speaker Mike Johnson to sit on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


In this new role, I will have the ability to work on policy that directly impacts Guam and the Indo-Pacific region. As a nonvoting member of Congress, much of our work is done in committees, and this is a new opportunity for our island to grow and garner support for Guam's issues.

 

While this appointment is just recent, our office has been engaged in issues associated with foreign issues since our term began.

 

HR 7442, the Philippines Medicare Portability Study Act, is gaining traction, and we are seeking a major legislative vehicle to attach it to.


This measure is the first step toward Medicare Portability, which would allow residents who have invested in Medicare through the years, and want to relocate to the Philippines, to access quality medical care.


As the co-chair of the bipartisan Philippines Caucus in the House, our efforts to move the inclusion of the Philippines in the Guam-CNMI visa waiver

 program is coming along.


I am happy to share that we were informed last year that the Department of

Homeland Security is in communication with the Philippines  Department

 of Foreign Affairs to seek out a plan to address how their government would

 manage overstays. In our last conversation last month, the process is ongoing.

 

This issue is far from over, but the positive is that it has started, and our office

 continues to communicate with both parties, as this approval would be a crucial component for our tourism industry.


I want to thank Governor Carl Gutierrez and Senator Jesse Lujan, for their long-standing efforts in advocating for this approval. The visa approval is and will be a team effort.


We heard your concerns, and we heard your cries, when it comes to our 

challenges with decent airfare prices. We have attempted to communicate with the corporate office of United Airlines, yet we continue to experience $500 ticket prices between Guam and Saipan, and nearly $3,000 to get to many major cities in the mainland.


They won't let you fly with your pet, and they won't repatriate our native birds who need to be sent off-island for captive breeding.


This is why we introduced HR 8786, which would provide a special cabotage exclusion for Guam and the CNMI. If enacted, this measure would allow foreign carriers to consider routes between Guam and the CNMI, or Guam and a U.S. state, encouraging some competition.

 

I won't lie, this is a major undertaking, and it will take time to build traction. 

There is a strong sentiment across the nation in protecting domestic industries, including airline carriers, and thus cabotage measures are not taken favorably.

 

But our situation is different.

 

We also needed to ensure that we had built solid relations in Congress, before introducing such a measure. Members must trust you and  your intentions,

before you try to amend something of this nature.


The timing to build this issue was perfect.

 

I am committed to building traction and education on this issue in the various committees I serve on. In fact, one of the top concerns of service members residing in Guam is the cost to travel to either attend weddings, graduations,

funerals, or for married individuals to fly their spouse and kids to visit them in Guam.


Our community also faces these challenges every day.

 

This is also another issue that will take a community-based effort, which is why I want to thank Senator Jesse Lujan for his partnership in supporting this endeavor.


I also want to thank Congressman Gregorio Kilili Sablan for co-leading this legislation, as we will need this to be a one Marianas approach.

 

I also want to reiterate that this issue has nothing to do with the great work, community partnership, or service provided by the United Airlines team in Guam and in flight. Thank you for your hard work and dedication in taking

 care of the people of Guam.

 

To add to this, our office has filed an amendment to include the Guam-CNMI flights as part of Essential Air Services, which is a federal grant program that subsidizes certain airline routes.


This amendment was filed for the House appropriation bill on transportation,

 and we will continue to advocate for this program to reduce the airline costs between the Marianas Islands.


Many ask about the Jones Act and what efforts are being undertaken to make modifications to this century-old law. the reality is, the act is well protected by unions and many elected officials, many who will not allow serious changes. They have their reasons, and protecting the domestic industry is one of them.

 

But our efforts at this point are focused on finding alternative solutions, while we build consensus with other offices on why certain exceptions may be needed for Guam.


For example, we have submitted a request for a study to seek out the pros and 

the cons of Guam being a part of the U.S Customs Zone, and how it would relate to the cost of goods.


Sometime next year, we will understand this better and collectively can determine if it is a route to take.


During my four years serving in this very hall, I advocated for the construction of a screening facility for the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency at an area near the Port Authority of Guam. This facility would allow the agency to enhance their ability to screen for illicit drugs entering through our seaport.


While we were successful in ensuring the property where the facility would be housed wasn't returned to the Port, I never understood why measures to at least get the A&E designs funded couldn't pass. Especially with the drug epidemic our island was and is facing.

 

Many times, I asked myself if it would take an act of Congress for this facility to become a reality.


Well, it literally took an act of Congress. In 2023 we were able to secure $2 million for the CQA to begin the process of an A&E design, and once they can get this completed, we will assist in working towards funding for the actual facility.

 

Speaking of CQA, I am happy to report that our amendment to secure funds to get x-ray scanners for the agency was approved and added to an appropriation bill. This is critical, considering the state of their current scanners at the airport.

 

To add to this, just last Friday, a couple of our amendments were included in the

Homeland Security Appropriations bill to provide greater authority for both the

 TSA and the CBP to provide additional support for Guam Customs and Quarantine.


This includes up to $6 million in potential equipment or resources to be provided to the local agency to fulfill their objectives,  which includes 

combatting drugs.


As Senator Amanda Shelton stated in a recent message, we do have a serious drug problem on the island. It is sadly taking lives while making us feel unsafe in our homes, and thus our government needs to work collectively to seek solutions.

 

I am also happy to report that the House Committee on Homeland Security submitted our request for a study to understand the true ramifications of

federalizing the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency.

 

This is a discussion that has existed for years, as the objective is to secure more resources to protect our borders, while allowing our CQA officers to eventually convert to federal employees, while securing more training, and better compensation packages.

 

But of course, first we need to know the pros and cons of this endeavor and that is the purpose of this study. Sometime around this time next year, we should know if this is a route that would need serious consideration.


I should also throw in that over $500,000 was also approved and added to an appropriation bill for CQA to purchase a Mobile Command Center.


I think it's pretty evident that we tend to focus a lot on CQA, but we, just as many on island, are concerned about the drug epidemic, and providing them the needed resources to protect our borders is a priority.


I should also note that Retired CQA Chief, Ralph Sgambelluri is on our team, and one of the largest advocates for the agency on the island.

 

For the Guam Police Department, we are happy to announce that we were also able to secure a Mobile Command Center for the agency, along with  a Crime

 Scene Response Van, and a Tactical Armored Vehicle. These were also approved requests and are part of an appropriation measure.


Since the Chief of Police is here in the audience, I would like to announce something we haven't released publicly yet. Chief, we were informed on Friday that nearly $2 million has been approved and added to an appropriation measure, for GPD to purchase patrol vehicles.


This was one of our CPF requests, and we are certain this will go a long way to assisting your department in their efforts to keep our island safe. Thank you for your partnership and your commitment to the community.


Let's have a round of applause to thank all our law enforcement officers who place themselves in harm's way to ensure that our community is safe, each and every day. Thank you for your service.


Since 2022, we have heard or read of stories of migrants from the PRC landing on our shores illegally. This is an issue we have raised in Congress, including having this discussion with national media, and taking it up the levels with various federal agencies.

 

While it is unfortunate that the Biden administration has an open border policy for migrants, hence deportations for entering illegally are not an option on the table, we are working with the House Homeland Security Committee to seek alternatives in addressing this problem.

 

Our amendment to fund additional Coast Guard cutters to monitor the activity out in the ocean was approved in the Homeland Security appropriation committee.


We have worked with House Legal Counsel on the deportation  policies if a

 migrant was to indeed commit a crime in Guam. 


A policy which we did share with Guam's Attorney General. Our request for

a study for Guam's threat levels has been submitted by the Homeland Security Committee to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.  This will lead to additional funding down the line and an increase in CISA's presence in Guam.

 

We are also working to increase the presence of federal law enforcement agencies in Guam to assist with this migrant problem that seems to be growing. 

I do want to thank Minority Leader Frank Blas Jr., for his partnership in

consistently inquiring and addressing issues associated with Homeland Security

 

As a Member of the House Rural Health Caucus, I am happy to announce that

language from HR 5989, the Rural Health Care Facilities Revitalization Act, which I am the GOP co-lead on, made the base text of the Farm Bill.


This will open rural funding opportunities for healthcare facilities on the island, both public and private, to update health IT, refinance debt obligations, use for operating expenses, telehealth, and support ancilary needs.


I am also excited to announce that our CPF request to provide $1.5 million to Todu Guam for the A&E


design for their community health center was approved and included in the agriculture appropriation bill.


Thank you to Senator Dennis Rodriguez and the Rodriguez family for your commitment to the improvement of the health and welfare of our community, particularly when it comes to the underserved areas of the island.

 

In that same appropriation bill is nearly $1 million for West Care for housing

for homeless youth. I would like to thank them and Sanctuary for their commitment to the community on so many levels as well.

 

Of course, we can't address health and wellbeing without commending the work of our firefighters and paramedics of the Guam Fire Department.


In 2023, through the CPF's we were able to secure a Fire Pumper Truck for the

 Department, and nearly $1.5 million in various gear to protect our firefighters who are combatting wildland and grass fires.

 

This year, a CPF request for an ambulance was approved, which would add to GFD's fleet.


I want to thank Senator Will Parkinson, the oversight chair for the fire department for your partnership on these endeavors.


I also want to commend GFD Chief Joey San Nicolas and the Guam Fire Department. Thank you for your efforts in not just keeping our island safe when it comes to fires and other emergencies, but also for caring for our community during such emergencies. Thank you for your service.

 

I am happy to announce that in our partnership with the USDA in presenting the section 504 program, nearly 400 screened prospects are eligible for some support from this federal program, which would assist our islands manamko in a certain income bracket, secure some funds for home repairs.


Thank you to Mr. Joe Diego and his team on your hard work and assistance with this program. The eligible individuals will be contacted if they haven't yet

completed their applications and get the process rolling so they can soon get a check in their hands.

 

This relationship occurred because we reached out to the USDA office in Hawaii and reminded them that if they don't increase their  support for the

 Guam office, for which they have jurisdiction, then we will be forced to focus on legislating the cutting of an umbilical cord and allowing Guam to not only have an actual regional office, but to have oversight over the CNMI and COFA nations.


We will continue to see more programs heading this way to help our

community.  At the same time, we have introduced an amendment in the agriculture appropriation bill to increase the funding for the Section 504 program.


In the NDAA, one of our several approved amendments would require a study for not just the true dates of when Agent Orange was dumped here in Guam, but its impact on our civilian population.


This is a long-standing process, and one that could have been addressed in

previous years. However, we are starting it, with the objective that it eventually materializes into compensation for those civilian residents who were adversely impacted by the burn pits.

 

Speaking of compensation, while our NDAA amendment attempts to add the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, also known as RECA, was ruled out of order, the measure is still into play.


There will be an attempt to add this measure to the Senate version of the NDAA by Senator Josh Hawley. As the Majority Lead on this measure in the House, we will continue to seek out support.


The issue with this measure is the funding source, and the House rules are

 simple. For every dollar you spend, you must find a dollar to cut. In the case of RECA, it is estimated to cost around $50 billion. But like I stated, the fight is still on, and our team is involved with a committee of various offices who are seeking offsets.

 

If the Senate approach fails, then the next attempt will take place after the

election cycle, as Congress will be in a lameduck period, and rules may

 be eased.  The point is, we will keep trying until this injustice for our people is addressed.


I want to commend Mr. Robert Celestial and the PARS organization in Guam

 for their continued advocacy on this important issue. Let's give them a round of applause.


One of the most important tasks of any congressional office is the focus on addressing the needs of our constituents when it comes to federal issues. For this, I am happy to report that your Guam Congressional Office has delivered.

Before continuing, I would like to recognize our team, who is here this evening, starting with our District Director, Trina Apatang. Followed by:

 

Ms. Venessa Salas Mrs. Auri-ann Calvo Mr. Ralph Sgambelluri Mr. Benjie Perez

Ms. Tehyani Crisostomo and Mr. Gus Aflague. Please join me in giving them a

round of applause.

 

They have answered the call of duty and have successfully closed hundreds of constituent cases since we took office. This includes closing out several open cases which we inherited from our predecessor.


From veteran's issues, to assisting with passports, visas, and even seeking waivers toward several federal regulations, our team has embraced the terms professionalism, customer service, and delivery.

 

We may not be able to solve every case, but our motto is that we will try, and if it is not a solvable issue, we will advise.


Nothing brings you joy knowing you assisted in getting a veteran their rightful benefits, visa approvals for sports or music teams, or waivers from the Buy American Build American policy.


But none of the stories of these cases are more heartwarming than assisting Baby Kaiya, just months after taking office.


This little baby needed a serious and lifesaving medical procedure off-island, and sadly a nearly 8-hour flight to Hawaii wouldn't help her and her condition.

 She needed to get to Manila, and unfortunately did not have a passport.

 

Unfortunately, her passport paperwork was sitting in Hawaii, and sadly the

congressional passport office had no jurisdiction over this. But this was not just any passport application, and the initial response was unacceptable.

 

Our team, both here in Guam and in DC, thought outside the box to make this

their number one priority. I am happy to report that after talking to several individuals in several jurisdictions, and shedding tears, we were able to secure that passport within 24 hours, and it was immediately sent to the district.

Baby Kaiya was literally on a flight to Manila by the end of the week for her procedure.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to announce that Baby Kaiya just celebrated her second birthday. Let's give this little princess a round of applause and commend her for her resiliency.


This job isn't just about the millions or billions that a member of Congress brings to their district, or even the opportunities.


Yes, those are important, but addressing the little things is what matters. It is about prioritizing needs at a grass root level and spending quality time with the community when on the island.


For this, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve in this capacity.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, our job is far from over, and we obviously have several issues to tackle before the 118th Congress term ends. We will certainly be seeing many more wins for Guam in the upcoming appropriation measures, and since our DC team is heavily engaged in our committee assignments, additional

announcements will be made.


I also want to thank our DC team for their hard work, 16- hour workdays, and commitment to Guam.

 

Our policy team consists of Mr. Chris Lukas Mr. Matt Steal Mr. Connor Hale,

Mr. Michael See-ah-ka and Mr. Nate Cooper.

 

Someone once mocked them by referring to them as the junior varsity team, possibly because of their age.

 

Well guess what, this JV team secures billions for Guam, addresses  endless

issues daily, doesn't take vacations, and I would stand with this team any day,

 even against the person mocking them.


In fact, they know the legislative process better, the policies better, have more relationships throughout the building, and they are committed to Guam.


I also want to commend Maria Bello who oversees our operations and 

scheduling,  Hannah D'avanzo who oversees our Communications, and Kiran Toh, a Guam kid who drafts great speeches. Thank you for your service for Guam.

 

I want to extend my deepest gratitude to my Chief of Staff, Bobby Shringi, for his unwavering commitment to our team and the people of Guam.


His dedication and tireless work ethic, evident in his willingness to work 

tirelessly for the betterment of our community, has been instrumental in our efforts to serve the people of Guam.


Bobby's selfless dedication truly embodies the spirit of public service, and I am honored to have him as a valued member of our team. Thank you Chief!

 

Yes, this speech is long, as it highlights our work over the past 18 months, but these wins are not here because of luck. They are here because of the 

relationships we have built for Guam across the board.


A freshman, let alone one from a territory, does not get to sit on two level A committees, unless you have built the trust of the leadership.


The victories we are seeing in multiple legislative vehicles are not common for territorial delegates.

 

We aren't securing just trees and buffaloes for Guam, but we are securing billions and opportunities for our island, and we have just started.


Madam Speaker, our office goal is not just about maintaining an open-door policy for the entire community, but also to be a resource for federal issues, and to embrace transparency.


I want to thank many of the Senators on this panel today for reaching out to our office since last year to seek out information.


Vice Speaker Barnes, Senators Lujan, Blas, Duenas, San Nicolas, and Parkinson, have reached out on issues previously, and I encourage others to do the same.

In a few weeks our island will be celebrating the 80th anniversary of our liberation.


This momentous occasion represents the resiliency of Guam's greatest generation, some of whom are in this room with us today.

 

As I recall the stories shared by mom, the late Maria Camacho Moylan, or by Aunty Irene Sgambelluri, I embrace why I chose to enter public service, and I am certain it is no different than many of our elected officials in this room today.

 

It is to help others, the way our parents and grandparents helped those who 

were in need at time of the occupation. It was how they were helped during those challenging times as well.


With this in mind, I would like end by saying, Si Yu'us Ma'ase, Happy Liberation Month, God Bless the United States of America, and God Bless Guam!

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