Washington D.C. – After numerous delays, the U.S. Senate Wednesday finally passed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA].
The Senate version of the NDAA is now headed to a House-Senate Conference Committee to be reconciled with the House version and, Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo says she will seek key changes affecting the Guam Military build-up.
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The House passed its version of the NDAA in May with over $100-million dollars in projects for Guam. And the House version also relaxed requirements to spend $3-billion in Japanese funds for the build-up.
But election-year politics prompted Senate changes that put conditions on funding for the fuel pipeline upgrade from Anderson Air Force Base to Naval Base Guam as well as improvements to the Guam National Guard Readiness Center in Barrigada.
Congresswoman Bordallo expects to be appointed to the House-Senate Conference Committee to iron out bill differences. She is vowing to fight the Senate language on build-up funding.
Bordallo: “The Senate version includes provisions that continue to restrict the use of U.S. and Japan funds to support the realignment of the Marines to Guam and I understand, there were no changes in these provisions, during the Senate consideration of the defense bill.”
The White House has already objected to the Senate’s restrictions on spending Japanese funds. Bordallo says the House Bill would roll back FY ’12 restrictions on Japanese and U.S. realignment spending and the House authorizes key build-up projects not in the Senate version.
Bordallo: “That included about $101-million for military construction projects for Guam as well as an additional authorization of $128-million for the Guam strike fuel cell and maintenance hangar.”
Also included in the House NDAA Bill is the President’s request for $139.4 million for Guam infrastructure improvements.
But complicating matters is the fact that Congress has not passed a defense spending bill to actually make changes in the NDAA. They have only authorized a continuing resolution to extend level funding through next March.
And now, the “Fiscal Cliff” threatens to make deep and automatic cuts to the Federal budget. If that is allowed to happen, it would take a big bite out of the Pentagon’s budget, including the Defense spending for Guam.