Hagåtña, Guam – Governor Lou Leon Guerrero issues the following statement on the Supreme Court ruling on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the territories:
Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in United States v. Vaello Madero, holding that the U.S. Constitution does not require Congress to extend SSI benefits to Puerto Rico, and, by extension, the remaining territories, including Guam. This Opinion carries grave consequences for our people. SSI benefits are conferred on residents of the states, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Inclusion of NMI residents as recipients of SSI benefits underscores the potential for congressional action to extend these benefits to our people, which the Supreme Court holds today is the appropriate path for territories seeking similar benefits. These benefits are critical to the lives of many in our community – SSI provides monthly income to low-income disabled, elderly, and blind Americans. It is imperative that we pursue extension of these benefits to Guam through Congress, and it is plainly unacceptable that this extension has not been adequately pursued let alone achieved already. Effective advocacy in Congress is necessary to enable our people to receive this life-saving aid, and the failure of our delegate to address these longstanding issues for the advancement of our people is negligent and disappointing. This effort cannot simply be abandoned at the earliest encounter with challenge or adversity. Our island and our people deserve better. As Maga’håga, I have and will aggressively continue to push for federal action to resolve this issue once and for all.