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By Susan Roth Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 5, 2001 – Pacific Daily News)---Sworn in for his fifth term Wednesday as Guam's delegate in Congress, Democrat Robert Underwood has lots of legislative plans but remains undecided about his political future.

''It's no secret that I'm thinking about running for governor, but that decision has yet to be finalized,'' said Underwood, surrounded by dozens of friends, family, government officials and other Pacific islanders at a crowded reception at his new digs in the Rayburn House Office Building.

''My focus remains on making sure I provide the service the people of Guam deserve for these next two years,'' he said, adding he is unsure whether he will run for Congress again. In the past, Underwood has talked about how much he misses Guam.

Mostly, it was new House and Senate members who held receptions after taking the oath of office, but Underwood said he has invited guests at the start of each term because it is a good excuse for a party.

''It does everyone good to have a little kelaguen,'' he said.

There was a huge bowl of kelaguen on a table also laden with empanadas, titiyas and sweets of all kinds. Guests filled every part of the freshly painted and redecorated four-room office, once occupied by former Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia before he became House speaker. Underwood's staff scrambled to seize the new office when it became available because it has a great view of the Capitol dome.

When Congress gets down to business after the presidential inaugural January 20, Underwood said he plans to reintroduce two measures that passed the House but failed in the Senate last year: A bill to establish a commission to determine U.S. restitution for World War II abuses against Guamanians, and a bill that would lower the tax rate for foreign investors.

Underwood also plans to push for additional aid to offset the impact of U.S. compacts with the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and hopes to schedule hearings to learn more about the ongoing negotiations of a new compact.

New legislation he is developing would address implications of Guam being outside the U.S. customs zone, Underwood said, which means the territory has been treated like a foreign country in ways that have hindered business.

''But my top priority is to work with the Bush administration to educate them on our legislative issues,'' he said. ''I hope to work in tandem with the other delegates and also to work with the Guam Republicans on that project.''

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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