Guam – Guam may get $33 million for island infrastructure projects after all, if the Department of Defense agrees to release the funds to Guam.
Even though that appropriation was taken out of the 2012 Defense Authorization Act which passed last Thursday, both the $33 million in funding and the language authorizing for it to be spent remained in a different piece of legislation, H.R. 2055 [ originally numbered H.R. 3671, the bill number was changed to H.R. 2055 after changes were made to the bill].
Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo rose on the House floor last Friday to get that on the record.
She asked Ranking House Appropriations Committee Member Congressman Norm Dicks about the Guam spending. Dicks affirmed that the money and the authority for DoD to spend it remained in the Omnibus spending bill.
The Senate Saturday then went on to approve the Omnibus spending bill. And President Barack Obama has indicated that he will sign the legislation.
The big question however is whether or not DoD will release to Guam the $33-million that the Omnibus bill includes and authorizes DoD to spend. They would have to go against the apparent intent of Congress in the 2012 NDAA [ even though the Omnibus bill indicates an opposite intent] and DoD would also be bucking the expressed objections of Senator John McCain, who is the ranking republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
McCain worked hard to eliminate the appropriation for that $33 million for Guam from the 2012 NDAA, and he tried, but failed to get the Senate Appropriations Committee to delete the Guam funding and spending authorization from the Omnibus bill.
READ Congresswoman Bordallo’s release in FULL below:
House Defends Infrastructure Improvements for Guam
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 19, 2011 – Washington, D.C. –
Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo today announced that House and Senate appropriators included language in H.R. 2055, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2012, that would appropriate and provide the necessary authorization for $33 million from the Office of Economic Adjustment for socioeconomic projects on Guam. H.R. 2055 passed the House by a vote of 296 yeas to 121 noes, and the Senate by a vote of 67 yeas to 32 noes. President Obama has indicated that he will sign the legislation.
On Friday, Congresswoman Bordallo discussed this provision on the House floor with Congressman Norm Dicks, the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, to clarify the intent of the legislation. Congressman Dicks reaffirmed to the Congresswoman that the Appropriations Committee’s intent is for the language of the bill to provide the necessary authorization for the Department of Defense to utilize funds intended for civilian infrastructure requirements on Guam, in compliance with section 2207 which established restrictions added by Ranking Member McCain in the defense authorization bill. However, the Department of Defense will have to make a final determination on whether these funds can be transferred to other Federal agencies to benefit Guam.
H.R. 2055 appropriates $33 million for civilian infrastructure improvements on Guam through the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment in response to the realignment of U.S. Marine Corps forces to Guam. The bill would provide the necessary appropriation and sufficient authorization for the Secretary of Defense to utilize these funds specifically to address the need for vehicles and supplies for civilian student transportation, the construction of a cultural repository for cultural artifacts unearthed during current and future military construction, and the construction of a mental health and substance abuse facility on Guam. The funding for this infrastructure was done through a validated process and in accordance with the Economic Adjustment Committee criteria.
“These infrastructure improvements will help to ensure that Guam is able to sustain the additional military presence anticipated from the build-up,” said Congresswoman Bordallo. “The funding for these socioeconomic projects fulfill an agreement made between the Administration and the Government of Guam, and I thank my colleagues on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for including this language in Consolidated Appropriations Act. I encourage the Department of Defense to utilize the authority provided in this legislation, consistent with Congressional intent, and I will work with them to have these funds transferred.”