House OKs political status education bill
By Dionesis Tamondong • Pacific Daily News • November 20, 2009
The House Committee on Natural Resources yesterday unanimously approved a bill that would extend federal assistance to Guam and other territories for a political status education program.
"The full committee's approval of H.R. 3940 signals that political status education for non-self-governing territories is a priority for the committee that has jurisdiction over the territories," said Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, who sponsored the bill.
The measure authorizes the Department of the Interior secretary to extend grants and other assistance to facilitate a public education program on Guam's political status. Other forms of assistance include research, planning assistance, studies and agreements with federal agencies.
The bill was amended to extend the proposed federal assistance to American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bordallo said.
"While each territory may approach this issue in a manner appropriate to their circumstances, we can all agree that there is a federal responsibility to assist the territories in self-determination, and that this process cannot be successful without a robust political status education component," she said.
Guam remains under the 1950 Organic Act model of territorial administration, with limited local powers of self-government over the civil affairs of the territory. Efforts to pursue greater self-government and a permanent political status have failed.