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Saturday, June 25, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesRANKING REPUBLICAN TO LOBBY FEMA FOR V.I.

RANKING REPUBLICAN TO LOBBY FEMA FOR V.I.

A visit by a delegation of Congressional representatives to the Virgin Islands over the weekend brought both good and bad news in regard to helping the territory out of its economic quagmire.
The good news is that Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), chairman of the House Resources Committee, will personally lobby the Federal Emergency Management Agency to forgive the approximately $250 million the territory owes in hurricane assistance loans.
The bad news is that the push from some quarters of the territory to receive a share of excise taxes collected on petroleum products produced by HOVENSA will probably face an uphill battle in Congress.
"My main goal is to see if we can have FEMA forgive the hurricane debt," Young said at a Monday afternoon press conference in Christiansted. "As this debt compounds itself, it keeps putting the islands deeper into debt. We will try and urge (FEMA) to do it."
Young was joined on the tour by American Samoa’s Delegate to Congress, Eni Faleomavaega, a member of the Resources Committee, and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) of the House Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Committees. Young, a ranking Republican with 27 years on the Hill, also sits on the House Transportation Committee.
The chances of the territory realizing a return on the gas excise tax are slim, Young said, mostly because the V.I. pays no gas taxes to the federal government.
"It would be hard to justify the tax if you don’t pay into one," he said.
The V.I.’s delegate, Donna Christian Christensen, agreed with Young. She repeated what she said last year when the excise tax issue was rekindled: that support in Congress was weak.
"All the states would like their taxes returned. And we’re not putting any in," she said. "I think what (Young) is saying supports what we’ve been saying all along."
Faleomavaega said the Turnbull administration and the V.I. Senate need to work together and then come to Congress and the Resources Committee with a plan.
"There is no question, there are some very serious problems," Faleomavaega said. "Hopefully there will be some decisions made on the part of the Legislature and the administration."
Finally, Young warned the Virgin Islands of a threat to the northwest: Cuba. He said the opening of Cuba to Americans is closer than most people think. The lifting of travel restrictions for U.S. citizens could translate into a devastating blow to tourism not only for the territory but for Puerto Rico.
"In the Caribbean you have some competition, much more than you realize. Possibly Cuba," Young said. "So you better get your licks in and get your infrastructure problems solved."

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A visit by a delegation of Congressional representatives to the Virgin Islands over the weekend brought both good and bad news in regard to helping the territory out of its economic quagmire.
The good news is that Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), chairman of the House Resources Committee, will personally lobby the Federal Emergency Management Agency to forgive the approximately $250 million the territory owes in hurricane assistance loans.
The bad news is that the push from some quarters of the territory to receive a share of excise taxes collected on petroleum products produced by HOVENSA will probably face an uphill battle in Congress.
"My main goal is to see if we can have FEMA forgive the hurricane debt," Young said at a Monday afternoon press conference in Christiansted. "As this debt compounds itself, it keeps putting the islands deeper into debt. We will try and urge (FEMA) to do it."
Young was joined on the tour by American Samoa’s Delegate to Congress, Eni Faleomavaega, a member of the Resources Committee, and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) of the House Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Committees. Young, a ranking Republican with 27 years on the Hill, also sits on the House Transportation Committee.
The chances of the territory realizing a return on the gas excise tax are slim, Young said, mostly because the V.I. pays no gas taxes to the federal government.
"It would be hard to justify the tax if you don’t pay into one," he said.
The V.I.’s delegate, Donna Christian Christensen, agreed with Young. She repeated what she said last year when the excise tax issue was rekindled: that support in Congress was weak.
"All the states would like their taxes returned. And we’re not putting any in," she said. "I think what (Young) is saying supports what we’ve been saying all along."
Faleomavaega said the Turnbull administration and the V.I. Senate need to work together and then come to Congress and the Resources Committee with a plan.
"There is no question, there are some very serious problems," Faleomavaega said. "Hopefully there will be some decisions made on the part of the Legislature and the administration."
Finally, Young warned the Virgin Islands of a threat to the northwest: Cuba. He said the opening of Cuba to Americans is closer than most people think. The lifting of travel restrictions for U.S. citizens could translate into a devastating blow to tourism not only for the territory but for Puerto Rico.
"In the Caribbean you have some competition, much more than you realize. Possibly Cuba," Young said. "So you better get your licks in and get your infrastructure problems solved."