Virgin Islands Free Press

G.O.P. Leadership Critical Of Mapp’s ‘Plans’ For The Territory’s Future After Rosy State of the Territory Address

G.O.P. State chairman John Canegata

CHRISTIANSTED — Responding to the state of the territory address
by Gov. Kenneth Mapp, Republican Party of the United States Virgin
Islands Chairman John Canegata issued the following statement:

“For too long the only answer has been to raise taxes and increase
spending. Robbing Peter to pay Paul will not solve the territory’s
profound fiscal woes. Government House and the Legislature needs to
focus on bringing more jobs and better pay checks by fostering
innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation in the private sector,” Canegata said.

Meanwhile, the G.O.P. said it also had a bone to pick with non-voting Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett.

“Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett can issue all the
false press statements she wants, but Republicans in Washington are
listening to the Virgin Islands,” the G.O.P. said in a prepared statement. “As TV2, the Avis and the Virgin Islands Free Press reported, the territory’s Republican Party leaders have been working with the
administration of President Donald Trump and the Republican
congressional majority. Unfortunately, the biased Virgin Islands Daily
News and Source have ignored this and chose instead to only report
fake news.”

Canegata, National Committeewoman and former
territorial Sen. Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal, and National Committeeman
Jevon Williams met with the Republican majority on the House and
Senate committees responsible for the Virgin Islands and the other
U.S. territories during their visit to Washington earlier this month.

They raised a variety of issues in their meetings, including:

— The necessity for a Coast Guard station on St. Croix or St. Thomas
to combat the illegal trafficking of guns, women, and drugs.
— Unfair maritime restrictions on Virgin Islanders fishing in U.S. waters.
— The increased cost of living and doing business because of the
territory’s status as a separate customs zone.
— Unequal funding of federal programs.
— Inadequacy of federal Veterans Affairs services to veterans
residing in the territory.
— The Virgin Islands exclusion from the Affordable Care Act.
— Increased Chinese presence in the Caribbean region.

Trump is expected to a name a special assistant for insular affairs,
which will give the Virgin Islands a direct hotline to the White House
— bypassing the bureaucracy of the Interior Department, after the
confirmation of his Cabinet secretaries. Democrats have stalled the
appointments in the Senate.

Canegata, Belardo de O’Neal, and Williams are also advising the Trump
administration on filling important presidential appointments within
the territory, including for U.S. attorney, U.S. marshal, and judge of
the federal District Court.

In other territorial news, Congressman Ryan Zinke was recommended today by
the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for
confirmation as President Donald Trump’s secretary of Interior.

Responding to the news, Republican Party of the United States Virgin
Islands Chairman John Canegata issued the following statement: “I look
forward to the full Senate voting to confirm Congressman Zinke as
secretary of Interior. Being from Montana — a state with a significant
amount of federal land — he understands many of the issues that Virgin
Islanders, particularly our fishermen and those living on St. John,
face on a daily basis.”

Canegata, Williams and Belardo de O’Neal attended Zinke’s
confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources. Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, D-Frederiksted, did not

If confirmed, Zinke would have responsibility for the Virgin Islands
and the other U.S. territories.

Zinke was last in the Virgin Islands in November, when the territorial
Republican Party hosted him on St. Thomas.

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