Federally funded programmes on Guam are facing uncertainties as the U.S. government heads toward a shutdown that will disrupt many services nationwide by 01 October.
“At this point there are no real clarifications of what services will be impacted. There are several factors to consider, but just as every other office, we are awaiting updates from the executive branch,” said Bobby Shringi, Guam Del. James Moylan’s chief of staff.
“We are heading a lot of speculation and assumptions, but nothing concrete. We suspect things will be clearer as the idea of a shutdown becomes more realistic,” he added.
If Congress is not able to pass a funding plan that the president signs into law, a shutdown will effectively begin at 12:01am.
As of this week, U.S. lawmakers are locked in a standoff amid hardline opposition from the right-wing faction of the Republican Party over taxing, spending and a large additional aid package for Ukraine.
“With 30 September looming in a few days, the House of Representatives will continue to work this week toward solutions to avoid a federal government shutdown, which can only be averted by either the passing of the remaining 11 appropriations bills or by passing a continuing resolution,” states a press release from Moylan’s office.
“Unfortunately, both options are facing uphill battles, which is why we are currently at this phase of this process.”
In a statement, the Republican Party of Guam slammed local policymakers for their lack of a contigency plan.
“In Guam, recognition of a potential federal work stoppage would have been reflected in a common-sense budget passed by the majority of the 37th Guam legislature recently,” the Republican Party said.
“It is apparent that Democrats in elected office simply care only about what will get them to the next election cycle and for what benefits they gain from such acts along the way. Discussion of a federal government shutdown has been in the making for weeks. It is apparent that this reality has been ignored in our nation’s capital and at Adelup,” the Republican Party said.
A federal shutdown takes shape amid the U.S. military’s efforts to accelerate defense projects on island and begin the construction of the Guam missile defense system in the face of growing threats to the Pacific region.
At a press briefing in Pentagon, Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said while the Department of Defense has in the past managed to perform under a continuing resolution, “it’s never a good thing” to continue operating under such a condition.
The defense department will not be able to start up new programme, she said.
“We hope that’s not the case,” Singh said. “If there is a shutdown, we will take proper measures in order to ensure that we can keep operating, we can still ensure readiness and that national security interests are still protected.”
The Guam delegate office said it is coordinating with several freshmen House members to reach a resolution toward averting a shutdown.
The delegate office said House members seek to ensure that key amendments continue in the remaining appropriation measures, such as the additional funding for the Guam missile defense, a temporary reimbursement for expense related to the Compact of Free Association and funding for border security and disaster relief.
“The current continuing resolution option on the table would continue to provide spending limits from the 2023 budget with an 8 percent cut across the board,” the delegate office said.
“However, while a good percentage of members are content with this proposal as a temporary solution until actual appropriation measures are passed, there are many otherswho disagree with it, particularly since it would continue to fund programmes the current majority disagrees with in general. This is where the compromises continue.”
The Republican Party of Guam said, “the leadership of America and Guam is headed in the wrong direction.”
“The Democrat-led White House, U.S. Senate, Office of the Governor of Guam and the Guam legislature have shown the whole of our collective American society that they do not keep the average tax payer front of mind in their respective actions,” the Republican Party said in a statement. “Our island community deserves leadership that does not distort economic decisions, penalise thrift or crush the work of the newest members of our workforce and the retired elderly alike. We need leadership that preserves tomorrow by acting with truth, transparency and decisiveness today,” the Republican Party said.