Delegates on Guam from Capitol Hill discussing military buildup
Chiefs of staff from over a dozen congressional delegates are in Guam meeting with military officials and local politicians regarding the military buildup and other issues affecting Guam. Short but sweet - that's one way to describe a meeting between a visiting congressional delegation and local politicians Wednesday morning.
Vice speaker Therese Terlaje said, "I thought it was really beneficial for us in my view because a lot of these people are dealing with the issues that we are actually dealing with here in the communities 43 for example, Congressman Ross' chief of staff is here, and Congressman Ross is the one who introduced the Agent Orange bill to include Guam."
Florida delegate Dennis Ross introduced the Fighting for Orange-Stricken Territories in Eastern Regions Act earlier this year, in an effort to recognize and provide benefits to veterans who claim to have been exposed to Agent Orange in Guam. His chief of staff Anthony Foti met with Vice Speaker Terlaje this morning, and she said, "And we pointed out the issues we're facing here regarding veterans issues and regarding the environment and the historic sites."
One issue that also came up is the proposed firing range near Ritidian, which has the Save Ritidian advocacy group speaking about possible impacts to historical sites and endangered species. Terlaje said, "We hope that also, while they continue to look at Guam, consider all these issues."
Other topics that came up include the H-2b visa denials and how that could impact the construction costs for family homes. "When I talked about a couple topics that they had also been working on in their offices, those of course peaked the most interest, Agent Orange was one, Radiation Exposure Compensation Act expansion was one, expansion of social security to Government of Guam employees was another," the vice speaker said.
Terlaje said in addition to meeting with local senators, the delegation toured military installations and Ritidian this afternoon. "It was my goal to give them the local side - they called it the local day so they wanted the local perspective on the buildup and other issues affecting Guam," she noted. "I thought that there were some very good issues that were brought up and they seemed very receptive to taking those issues back to Congress and working on them and focusing on Guam."