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formulate a comprehensive Commonwealth legislation that is mutually agreeable to all parties. Participation by Congress, which is constitutionally vested with plenary powers over territorial matters, would add significant momentum in bringing this matter to a closure. On June 20, 1998, the centennial of the raising of the American flag on Guam occurs. This would be a good deadline to complete work on a substitute Guam Commonwealth bill.
A second alternative would be to pursue individual Federal policy changes that Guam has proposed, which are supportable by the administration, many of which are not inherent in the definition of the island's constitutional status. We could do this through discrete and separate legislation, perhaps having individual bills for each issue considered, such as the application of Federal immigration, labor, transportation, trade, and tax policies to the islands.
The administration is willing to pursue either of these alternatives. I thank you for the opportunity to testify, and I'll try to answer whatever questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ğaramendi may be found at end of hearing.)
Mr. HILL. I thank the witness for his testimony. The chairman will now recognize members for any questions they may wish to ask the witness. I will submit questions for the record, recognizing that you're on a tight schedule, and I will now recognize Mr. Miller.
Mr. MILLER. I would yield to Mr. Underwood. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your statement.
Mr. HILL. Mr. Underwood.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Well, thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your statement, and I read it briefly this morning. And I want to say that at least we're at the point in which a clear decision is being reached as to how far the administration is going to go.
Obviously, I want you to know that I think that it is very clearly the sentiment of the people of Guam that without consideration of Chamorro self-determination, we will not ever have any kind of political status change which will be meaningful for Guam. I want to stress that this is a core principle of our commonwealth legislation and I've noticed that you've touched on that in an unsupportive way.
But I just want to ask you, on one page of your testimony you lend a great deal of hope for further discussion, and I certainly appreciate that. However, on the second page you de-limit some of the proposals and the advances that you've indicated have existed. In terms of mutual consent, your statement says that you are willing to support a Federal policy commitment not to unilaterally change the fundamental relationship between Guam and the U.S., and in the second part you say that you are against legally binding the Congress or the executive branch to seek the consent of the Commonwealth Government before modifying the act creating Guam Commonwealth. It seems to me that you're willing to say that you are willing to make a promise, but just don't hold us to that promise. Is that a fair characterization of your position?
Mr. GARAMENDI. Let me put it in my words. There should be a policy, and this administration believes that a policy should be put in place that the Commonwealth Act should not be changed without mutual agreement. However, to place that into the law creates
very serious constitutional and legal problems that the administration believes cannot be overcome. Therefore, as an example, since the original Organic Act for Guam, which I believe was in the 1950's, there has not been a change that has not been mutually acceptable. So, I would say the policy has been long-established, but the legal issue is quite clear from the point of view of the administration legal lawyers.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. OK. The second question I have and I know you're running a tight schedule, Mr. Secretary-pertains to the issue of the final political status, the self-determination issue. You indicate that the administration is willing to support an invitation for the Guamanian people to express their desire for Guam's ultimate political status, but that you reject the notion that there can be provided for a legally binding, Government-sponsored or endorsed vote on the ultimate political status of Guam.
The question I have is that under—unless I'm not seeing something that you may wish to say—is that under either scenario, there is no legally binding, self-determination vote for Guam possible, because even in the more expansive statement in which you indicate that the administration is willing to support an invitation for the Guamanian people, you did not put that it would be legally binding, Government-sponsored, or endorsed; yet you're quite willing to limit those possibilities for the exercise of Chamorro self-determination, but you're not quite willing to expand and make a full commitment on the exercise of any future political status vote by all the people who are currently on Guam. And what that means is that, basically, it seems to me, is that it's a denial of the exercise of self-determination all the way around, either for the Chamorro or all people who are currently on Guam.
Mr. GARAMENDI. I don't believe that to be the case. If there is a Government-sponsored election that includes all of the legal residents who are eligible vote, then I believe that that would have great weight. Obviously, the ultimate disposition of the status of Guam resides in this building or in these buildings. It resides with Congress, as stated by the Constitution. And so that issue is, I think, very clear.
Equally clear are the concerns that the administration has about sponsoring a vote in which only a subgroup of people who are legal residents and eligible to vote, could vote. I would like to be certain that we provide you with written testimony, some of which is already in my statement of the long, written statement on this matter, and if further clarification is desired by the committee, we would be happy to respond in writing. I don't want to confuse the issue with a potential misstatement by myself.
Let me take advantage of what appears to be just a few more seconds to state one more thing that is very obvious to me, and that is the enormous energy, intellectual capacity, and determination that has been applied to the months of negotiations in which I have been engaged in and applied by yourself, Mr. Underwood, and by the Governor of Guam, Mr. Gutierrez. The two of you have been extraordinary, both in your determination to push this issue forward and in the intellectual depth to which you have taken this matter. You have taught me a great deal; I have learned a great deal, and I have great respect for both of you.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Well, I appreciate those very kind words, and I would be less than candid if I didn't say that the Federal bureaucracy matched this intellect and this energy going in the opposite direction, perhaps with greater success—apparently.
Mr. GARAMENDI. I'll let you
Mr. UNDERWOOD. But I certainly have some questions for the record. I just want to reiterate again that the issue of Chamorro self-determination, the indigenous people of Guam who were the people that were colonized in the case of Guam, will never go away until it's fully resolved in one way or another. And one way or another, that exercise will occur.
I have to reiterate my strong concern about the manner in which the administration has taken this position, but I will say that you have left the door open, and I'm happy that there is the door open now. You may just have to be careful that there are going to be hundreds of people running through that door.
Mr. GARAMENDI. Well-
Mr. HILL. I thank the gentleman. I would remind members of the committee that Mr. Garamendi does have to leave for an airplane, and I would remind all members that they can submit questions for the record.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Yes, thank you very much. Mr. Garamendi, I appreciate that you're going to have to leave shortly, but I think there are some questions here with regard to Commonwealth that should be on the record now, and folks should hear it as quickly as possible.
There are parallels to the difficulties in Puerto Rico here. I'm glad this hearing is being held today because I think it points out how you cannot write a definition of Commonwealth to suit yourself, and I think this is one of the problems that is not fully understood in Puerto Rico. I agree with you, I believe, if I understand you correctly. Legally binding the Congress or the executive branch to seek the consent of the Commonwealth Government–that's one of the objections you have, right?
Mr. GARAMENDI. One of the serious problems we have is—
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Yes. You cannot-the Congress is never going to acquiesce to allowing someone else to determine whether or not they want to acquiesce or concede to what the United States wants it to do if they, in fact, are citizens and going to have a relationship in a Commonwealth, right?
Mr. GARAMENDI. That is a fundamental issue.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. It's not only an issue of policy, but it's probably one of constitutionality, is it not?
Mr. GARAMENDI. That is the assertion of this administration. It is a constitutional issue, and it's one that is very difficult to overcome.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. So if 100, if H.R. 100 addressed that issue and eliminated that, that would eliminate one of the problems, right? Mr. GARAMENDI. That is correct. If the
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. OK, thank you. You don't have to expand. You can expand later, but I realize you're short of time. But the short answer is that that is a stumbling block; if that's removed, then it makes the objections much less high in profile, right?
Mr. GARAMENDI. That is correct.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. OK, again; then the second thing-on providing for the vote with the Chamorro people. Having come from a State and having served in a legislature which consciously put forward a constitutional amendment allowing Hawaiians to vote and excluding people who were not Hawaiians to vote, with everybody voting to do that—in other words, I was in a legislature that voted to do that. I consciously excluded myself from being able to vote for trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in recognition of the fact that the indigenous people of Hawaii deserved an opportunity to resolve all the issues-social, cultural, economic, et cetera. And we are not only surviving, but I think this process is going to work through.
If we can construe in H.R. 100 something where that does take place, because my information is that virtually all of the people there before 1950' have some Chamorro origin. Now there might be some who don't. I don't know-1,000 or 2,000, whatever it isthey'd be in the same category as I am. Maybe they're Haoles—I don't know—which is a Hawaiian word for—has come to mean it usually meant strangers; it's now come to mean Caucasians, generally preceded by a couple of colorful Angle-Saxon adjectives(Laughter.] But there's no great harm done; we can work on it. If an acceptable formula could be worked out there because Mr. Underwood is quite correct; the issue has to be resolved-might you find yourself more amenable on that issue?
Mr. GARAMENDI. We attempted to find a way of resolving this in a non-Governmental-sponsored vote, and that's what I had proposed.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Well, just for today's hearing, Mr. Garamendi, and for Mr. Chairman, I do recommend that we maybe take a look at the history of the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in Hawaii as a possible—not necessarily a model, but at least a method that was arrived at which apparently has been able to achieve constitutional authority; it hasn't been challenged. And maybe we could do some modification of that and find it applicable here.
Mr. GARAMENDI. One of the fundamental points in my testimony is that this administration believes it is wise and a fruitful policy to continue discussions with the people of Guam through their elected representatives and those who they choose to represent them in these matters. Certainly the issue you raised could be considered. There are very serious constitutional issues surrounding this particular issue, and we would be happy to share with the committee the views of the constitutional lawyers in the Department of Justice on these matters, including the issue—the proposal that you made.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you; I appreciate that. I'm just presenting for you, Mr. Chairman, that I don't think this is necessarily insurmountable if people of good faith and good will work at it.
Finally, Mr. Garamendi, I think I agree with the positions here about transferring control of the adoption and enforcement of immigration and labor policies and the application of Federal policies. If the Commonwealth takes place, my position would be, and I presume your position and I presume the constitutional position would be—and I'm almost certain that the Congress would have this—if you're going to have Commonwealth status, then all Federal laws are going to be applicable. You're not going to pick and choose, especially where labor laws and the rest are at issue. That's what the Marianas are going to find out real quick, that you don't start claiming U.S. citizenship and then say, not necessarily for those we don't like or those we want to exploit.
Mr. GARAMENDI. The position that we have is that there are unique circumstances in Guam, as in States, and those circumstances may require or suggest that a law be modified to deal with the uniqueness of those circumstances. We think that's appropriate
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. That's fine.
Mr. GARAMENDI. [continuing) and it's certainly up to Congress; you do it all the time.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Sure.
Mr. GARAMENDI. And that, we think, is an appropriate way to go. With regard to labor issues, there is an extensive discussion of this in my written testimony. If you have further questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Yes, I did read through that, and I appreciate that. But as a general rule, your position is is that Federal law is applicable-period. Mr. GARAMENDI. To the extent that Congress desires it to be, yes.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. OK, thank you very much. I might say then, in conclusion, Mr. Chairman, that I think it's laid out fairly clearly here as to what we have to do and where we have to go, and I would say, in the end, that it has to be very, very clear to the people of Guam, just as I think it is being made clear to the people of Puerto Rico, that Commonwealth does not mean you get to act like an independent nation when it suits you, and then claim all the full rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship when it suits you.
Mr. HILL. I thank the gentleman. The gentleman's time has expired. I would recognize Ms. Smith.
Mrs. LINDA SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Has this witness been sworn in? Have these witnesses been sworn in?
Mr. HILL. No, they have not.
Mr. GARAMENDI. Mr. Chairman, I'm certainly happy to do that. I assume that every statement I make is taken to be accurate and truthful to the extent I know it, and subject to all the rules of this Congress whenever I speak here.
Mr. HILL. If the gentlelady—Mr. Garamendi does have to leave, and
Mrs. LINDA SMITH. OK. I think his statement, if that would be taken down for the record, would be fine.
I guess what I'm wanting to ask about is to the Secretary—the questions. I have been very disturbed at the Guam Governor's statement that money helped grease the skids for the change in policy with Guam. It is a problem that has troubled me, and often there was implication that money did pass for policy with Guam.
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