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and members of this august body, you will find that it will mutually benefit all of us because it will give our people that opportunity to achieve their dreams and aspirations, to be innovative and creative, and at the same time be less reliant on the Federal Government coffer. And we have done that so far, even with the fact of the Federal constraints imposed upon us. We have accomplished what other people can't believe that we have so far, for many years.
But we are looking for the next generation. It is our duty and obligation to provide the economic environment for the next generation, because we just can't work for this generation. And that's what this Commonwealth is all about, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Mr. Chairman-would the gentleman yield on that last answer?
Mr. CANNON. Yes.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I want to make absolutely sure-Governor Gutierrez has presented a much different approach, Mr. Ada. Are you telling me that this Commonwealth bill is an opportunity for you to have labor that will not meet standards, like minimum wage and health and environmental standards? And that you want to have Guam considered as if it was China and the rest, which I oppose?
Governor ADA. Mr. Congressman, I am glad you asked that question, and I challenge each member of this august body
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Just a moment, Mr. Ada-you're not going to challenge me to anything. I can tell you that right now. You're not going to run for office on my time.
Governor ADA. I'm trying to respond to your question, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I just want a simple answer. I do not read H.R. 100 in the manner in which you have just described it, and Governor Gutierrez's approach seems much more likely to succeed. Now if I understand you correctly, if I understand what you're stating here, you have a different interpretation of H.R. 100 than I do.
Governor ADA. No, sir. The reason why I said that I challenge each member—not to be disrespectful, Mr. Congressman. You have been misled by the administration in so many ways. In the end, it guarantees that Guam would not implement any law that is lesser of the U.S. labor law. We should not implement any law that would also be contrary to wages, and so forth. We will uphold the labor law, and the only thing that we can do is do even better than what is in the Federal labor law. So we do honor and respect the labor laws, as well as where wages are concerned, and it's for that reason, Mr. Congressman. I'm sorry if I tried to imply that you haven't read the act. I understand that that's another matter, but it's been so often misrepresented.
Mr. PETERSON. I feel called upon here to call a recess for 15 minutes where members will be free to go vote, and then we'll be right back. So this will give those of you sitting a chance to stand and stretch and take a breath of fresh air, and we'll be back shortly.
Mr. PETERSON. Ready to go back to work? If we can find our Governors, we'll proceed.
Governor GUTIERREZ. I'm here, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETERSON. If everybody could take a seat, we'll get started. We have a lot of territory to cover yet—that slipped out.
Mr. PETERSON. We're going to get started now, if I could have your attention.
I will call on the gentleman from American Samoa, Mr. Faleomavaega.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That's all right—you've just slaughtered my name, but I know you mean well.
Mr. Chairman, I would be remiss if I do not also offer my personal welcome to the three distinguished Governors whom I've had the privilege of knowing personally: Governor Gutierrez and Governor Calvo when I was formerly a staff member of this committee ages ago—and my good friend, Governor Ada, for their presence. And I also welcome my good friend, Ron DeLugo, who is former chairman of the Subcommittee on Territories, who is here with us.
Mr. PETERSON. Would the gentleman yield? We need more quiet in the room. If you need conversations, I guess whisper or go outside. We really do need your attention.
The gentleman may proceed.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I had hoped that my good friend from Hawaii, Congressman Abercrombie, would be here because there were some questions and issues that he raised that we wanted, not only for purposes of clarification, but as well as for his edification and understanding of the problems with the insular areas, separate and apart from the history of Hawaii when it became a territory, an incorporated territory, and then eventually became a State.
But I would like to thank the three Governors for their profound statements, and I just wish that more members of our committee would be here so they could receive a little sense of education about what happens out there and the problems that we're faced with when issues such as this come before the committee for consideration.
I would like to ask Governor Gutierrez, as chairman of Guam's Commission on Commonwealth, I made an earlier statement to Mr. Garamendi that, in my humble opinion, for the past 8 years we have not moved one inch since the proposed Commonwealth Act, and the fact that the people of Guam have voted, have given their consent, that this is what they want.
Do you think, Governor Gutierrez, that we have a problem here with the process? You know, we all know that it took over 10 years,
think, for the Federated States of Micronesia to negotiate their Compact of Free Association until finally it was approved by the Congress. I believe, also, that your cousins in the northern Mariana Islands also took several years before their covenant relationship with the Congress was also approved, so I'm having a little problem here with whether it is the process that is the problem, or is it because of the substance?
It was almost like the document has already been approved by the people and the voters of Guam, and it seems to me that this kind of locks in everybody. It's either a take-it-or-leave-it basis for
the negotiators to go in there. Is there any sense of flexibility in the process, like the way the Compact of Free Association was negotiated? You know, it was a give-and-take; it took over 10 years to do this. Now, 15 years later, after the voters of Guam opted for Commonwealth, your own sense of definition of what Commonwealth is—because it's not like Puerto Rico's Commonwealth; it's not like Pennsylvania's Commonwealth status. So I am in a quandary as to, is it the process that we're having a problem with?
My own sense, my feel right now of the situation, is that we have a document in place, the people of Guam voted on it. How will it be possible, then, for the members of the administration, or even the Congress, to have any sense of negotiation or flexibility if, in fact, the compact is already written in stone, so to speak, by the people of Guam? Do you see the problem I'm having?
Governor GUTIERREZ. OK.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. And I would please welcome your suggestion.
Governor GUTIERREZ. Thank you very much, Congressman, and let me say that the problem is a little bit of both, I think—the substance and the process. And the fact that we're not blameless in this situation either; the people of Guam are not blameless in this. And, certainly, the Congress, when they sent us to the administration in 1989, it was a mistake—without themselves weighing in.
The difference between the freely associated States and the CNMI, at the time that they had negotiators, you had Ambassadors doing it. They were not U.S. citizens. Now when you look at Guam, you've put us in this United States citizens mold, and, suddenly you tell us that “You're a United States citizen. You have no right to negotiate with your own Government.” And this is where the problem lies.
Now as we move forward, we have to take who's got the power and the authority to make things happen, and it's Congress. And if Congress does not weigh in at the outset, you're going to continually see this process dragged on for the next millennium. And so the suggestion as we spoke with this administration and you heard it from Mr. Garamendi; it was not without my knowledgeis that we continue to open the door, but have a tri-partite negotiating theme and a deadline set—and I suggested the date June 20, 1998, the 100th year of the raising of the U.S. flag over. Guam.
If you put that in the process to move forward, then you would see the substance and the process actually work. It won't work now. But the testimony—I'm a forever optimist, Mr. Congressman, and people take potshots at Mr. Garamendi for his statements. I've been dealing with the gentleman for over almost 2 years. I know what he feels in his heart. I think his inner-being knows that he despises colonies. I know I spoke with President Clinton. His innerbeing despises colonies.
It's trying to break through this mold and this box of constitutionality, which we ought not to be thinking in. We ought to step out of this box and start to realize that to be able to bring a people such as Guam, with a unique history, to move forward in a relationship that gives some dignity to the island and its people, you've got to step out of the box. And if you continually stay within these
constitutional questions, we will never come to any resolution of the problem.
And we say to you, Congressman, that for 100 years you have inculcated in our minds, if not ingrained in our minds, true representative democracy and the system that makes this Nation great and that makes it work. And if you don't allow us to come forth and get a unique relationship because you're telling us that Statehood is out of the question; you won't give us the two senators and a representative that can vote; so, therefore you have to give us some unique representation here. And the process as we have envisioned it with this administration is to put together a mechanism such as a Federal commission in which Guam has input-not veto power, but input into the way the laws are made that govern our lives.
Mr. Farr has been out there, but I would say that 99 percent of the Congressmen and Senators have never been to Guam, but they continually make legislation that impacts my life adversely without their knowledge. And I don't think they like or have to do that if you had a commission come in to say, “Wait a minute, Senators. If you allow this bill to pass, it might hurt Guam.” Now if they don't want to take that advice, then Guam is going to be negatively impacted. But it requires that this commission have some highlevel people in it, appointed by the President of the United States.
Now this is our representation in Congress, and it doesn't have a veto power, but it has some meaning. Because if you don't give us the Senators and the Congressmen, obviously, then, we have to devise a unique relationship, and that's all we're asking for. We want to be continually a part of the United States. It's part of me. My very first memory—my very first memory, walking out of that concentration camp at 3-years-old, was that G.I. walking me out and carrying me—that smiling face. So you cannot take away from me that America is great. Anybody that says Americans are no good has a fight with me.
But I say, also, in the truest sense of democracy, that you have to do something with how this Government was founded in the first place and to embrace all that are US citizens. You can't leave us out there, out there 10,000 miles away to fend for ourselves, because we are America in Asia and you have to understand it from that perspective.
Our economy is Asian economy, and if you continue to have those Federal laws bind us from moving forward, growing our economy, then you will see that there's tension building, and then you will see that there's not going to be harmony with the relationship with the United States.
And the people that we face daily is the US military out there. We still want to be able to do that, but for God's sake, make sure that the people of Guam get more of their internal self-governance. That's all we ask.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Governor Gutierrez, within the matter of 7 or 8 months, you will have reached 100 years. Whether we're going to celebrate it, or whether we're going to do something else to commemorate the 100th year of the relationship existing between Guam and the United States—and I want to ask for your best opinion-what are we going to celebrate next year?
Governor GUTIERREZ. Well, if Congress says, “Yes; we'll go on the tri-partite negotiations,” I think we would celebrate a renewed relationship that moves us into the 21st century, that the people of Guam would allow for bringing to a closure, as Congressman Underwood said, the right to self-determination of its people. And I say to you: Not to worry, Congressman. You have taught us well in American democracy, and I don't know why anyone would worry how the people of Guam would choose if you give them that opportunity.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to Governor Calvo, Governor Ada?
Governor CALVO. I was just going to say that Governor Gutierrez covered the subject very well, but I'd just like to put a more practical prospectus into the situation. We are American citizens, a possession of the United States, which is quite different than the northern Marianas and the rest of the islands. And in fact, during World War II, we were the only island that was with the allies. And so you have a situation and also, we're the island that has the military presence.
It reminds me of when I was young; you know, when you are courting your girlfriend, you are very nice and you promise her heaven on earth, but once you get married, some people look at their wives as their possession. And so in that way, I feel that Guam is a spouse of the United States. And they say, "Hey, stay at home and do exactly what I say. Don't do what I preach out there, just do what I say." And I know it's kind of hilarious, Mr. Chairman, but that is the difference between Guam, the northern Marianas, and the rest of Micronesia. We are a possession. We are a colony.
And, of course, somebody was mentioning the gentleman, I think, from Connecticut—the Congressman from Connecticut—that why should you be so possessive when all we're asking is to be like you over here. Thank you.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Governor Ada.
Governor ADA. Thank you, Congressman. I just would like to ask this august body to issue a directive in some form to the administration to carry this process if this is your wish, or take handle of this process yourselves. I have experienced the frustration of having to sit across from the task force of the two previous administrations and have come to an agreement on major issues, such as consultation with the military on various matters, such as the immigration laws, such as the trade policies; and the most important part, the part that everybody has said is unconstitutional, is the mutual consent provision. We had come to an agreement.
Michael Heyman, a noted law professor, chancellor of Berkeley University, was the Clerk of the Supreme Court during the 1960's—he had drafted the proposition and submitted it to the administration that mutual consent is do-able. We have worked on this issue for many years, and we have researched every constitutional issue with respect to mutual consent, and to this date, every time we have reached an agreement and at the end of every administration, the major concessions, the major agreements that we have signed were reneged. It happened again during the Clinton