How will you work to improve federal/territorial relations?
During my time in Congress, I have sought to raise Guam’s stature at the federal level. I have been appointed to leadership positions in the House of Representatives, including ranking member of the Small Business Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform and Oversight, the chairwoman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Wildlife and Oceans, and on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness – the House subcommittee most critical to the military buildup. I am also the vice chair of the Health Care Task Force of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. These positions enabled me to bring Guam’s issues to the forefront.
Do you support Guam-based organizations hiring lobbyists to promote their positions on Capitol Hill?
The First Amendment guarantees every citizen the right to petition their government, and the ability for elected leaders to hear directly from the people is at the very core of our democracy. It is important for members of Congress to hear many viewpoints in order to make the most informed decisions. I would never seek to infringe on this right. Moreover, issue advocacy is an important part of the political process in Washington D.C., and in many cases, lobbyists have helped us advance issues of importance to our people. However, perceptions matter, and I believe our community must speak with one voice when dealing with the federal government.
What do you think will be the most serious challenge Guam will face 20 years from now?
In 20 years, I would hope our island has resolved its political affiliation with the United States through a legitimate act of self-determination. It is important for our people to finally decide our relationship with the U.S. and determine what is best for our island. Moving toward decolonization remains one of the longstanding issues that must be resolved. We have always been a resilient people, and I am confident we will be able to address the new challenges placed before us. I passed legislation that clearly allows the Department of the Interior to provide federal funds for a political status education campaign.