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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, April 17, 2024


Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christian-Christensen and Gov. Charles W. Turnbull wrapped up a week of meetings Thursday in Washington, D.C.
Their attendance together at meetings and events all week presented a united front of Virgin Islands elected officials to key members of the House and Senate and Clinton Administration officials, according to a release from Christensen's office.
A highlight of the week was the inauguration of the White House Interagency Group on Insular Areas, which has been established in the U.S. Interior Department to guide senior agency officials on territorial policies.
Christensen and Turnbull joined the other territorial governors and delegates at Thursday's meeting, chaired by Secretary Bruce Babbitt at the White House. The IGIA will work with the island governments to develop and coordinate policy concerning the territories.
Earlier this week, Christensen and Turnbull met with House Ways and Means Committee members, Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Phil Crane (R-IL), and Bill Jefferson (D-LA); Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) who is the second highest ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK), chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Also at the meetings were Kenneth Pincourt, president of V.I. Rum Industries Ltd., and attorney Derek Hodge, legal counsel for the company.
While the general purpose of the meetings was to give Washington officials a chance to meet Turnbull, the delegate and governor had the opportunity to highlight issues on which they plan to work with federal officials to aid in the recovery of the islands’ economy. Chief among these: the return of all of the excise taxes on rum, the release said.
Christensen and Turnbull also met with House Resources Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK) and its ranking member, Rep. George Miller (D-CA), as well as FEMA Director James Lee Witt and Interior Secretary Babbitt.
“I could sense the relief on the part of many we met for the level of cooperation between my office and the governor’s," Christensen said. "The meetings were an excellent first step as we begin not only to work on the rum issue but on the larger economic package for the territory."
She said the larger economic picture will unfold after the report of the consultant who has been working on these issues, the economic summit and the deliberations of the federal-local working group.
“I am particularly pleased with the White House working group which was inaugurated today, because it demonstrates a real commitment to the territories and is the first step toward articulating a concrete policy for us,” Christiansen said.

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