House passes Guam war claims funding bill with unanimous consent and no objections; H.R. 1365 now headed to Senate

Congressman Michael San Nicolas (PNC file photo)

H.R. 1365, which would provide the necessary appropriation for Guam war claims to finally be paid, has passed the full House with unanimous consent and without objection.

The voting for the bill, introduced by Congressman Michael San Nicolas, had to be moved twice as its initial schedule for Wednesday 12 noon EST had to be changed due to the heavy schedule of the House.

At 9:06 p.m. EST, the Speaker announced that voting on suspensions, the category where H.R. 1365 was placed, would be moved again until a later time to be announced.

It was then that Congressman San Nicolas stood up and moved to suspend the rules and ask the House to pass H.R. 1365 as amended.

San Nicolas said this marks the first time that he rose on the floor to deliver remarks before the House floor. But he said the “gravitas” of H.R. 1365 is such that he chose to withhold a congressional privilege speech until this day.

During his speech, San Nicolas stressed that the money for the war claims does not create a new expense category for the federal budget, adding that the money for the claims originates from Guam’s Section 30 money.

He added that the claimants are not just Guam constituents and that they are scattered all over the United States — in 46 other states, and 265 districts across the nation.

Notwithstanding Guam’s political status, San Nicolas said service members from Guam have paid the ultimate price and died in the service of the U.S.

He described Guam as the “Sparta of America,” with the highest military recruitment in the U.S. armed forces.

Republican congressman John Curtis of Utah also pushed for passage of H.R. 1365 and rose on the floor delivering a speech in support of the bill.

San Nicolas has always credited bipartisan support for the progress of H.R. 1365 with House Republicans and the local Republican Party of Guam backing the bill.

“The unanimous passage of HR 1365 is a testament of the full support Guam has in both Parties to bring closure to our Greatest Generation. The Republican Party of Guam was instrumental in securing this unanimous vote and deserves special recognition for working with my Democrat office on behalf of the people of Guam. This outcome exonerates the local distractions critical of our work and sends a clear message that the people’s agenda in Washington DC is best served by supporting this office of the people,” San Nicolas said.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero, reacting to the passage of H.R.1365, said the bill’s passage is great news for the people of Guam.

“I congratulate Congressman San Nicolas for his continued determination to usher this very important legislation through the Congressional legislative process. We look forward to the bill’s consideration by the U.S. Senate as soon as possible and we will assist however we can to ensure that the U.S. Treasury is able to spend funding given to them by the Department of the Interior to award claims to survivors and heirs. In the meantime, we will continue working with the Guam Legislature and the Trump Administration to create a local program that could bring such closure, parity, and justice sooner to our remaining survivors of Guam’s World War II occupation,” the governor said.

Senator Amanda Shelton, who traveled to Washington D.C. to help lobby for H.R. 1365, said that with the passage of H.R. 1365 in the House, Guam moves one step closer to closure.

“I want to thank Congressman San Nicolas for his work and congratulate him on the passage of H.R. 1365. Our generation owes everything to our manåmko’. We must complete this obligation to bring justice for our greatest generation and continue to honor the sacrifices they have made for us,” Shelton said.

H.R. 1365 has now been referred to the U.S. Senate to undergo a similar process of approval.

When a bill passes in the House, it must also pass in the Senate in order to become a law. In the Senate, the bill again may be sent to a committee for study or markup or members may vote to pass or not to pass the bill.

If H.R. 1365 passes the Senate, it goes on to President Trump for his signature or his veto.