Congress Back Soon to Tackle Military, Other Guam-Related Issues

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Other House provisions would help preserve Guam land holdings…and study a role for the Guam Army National Guard in the THAAD missile defense system.

Washington D.C. – Congress returns next month to tackle several high profile issues affecting Guam, especially on the military front. 

 

One of the biggest unfinished issues is the annual National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA—basically, a budget and spending policy for the Pentagon.

House and Senate negotiators, including Guam’s Madeleine Bordallo, will again sit down to work out differences on a bill that ‘green-lights’ about a quarter of a billion dollars for Guam build-up projects—a few billion more in the House than Senate bill.

But unrelated fights over military funding and whether to let President Obama close the Guantanimo Naval Base military prison housing terrorist fighters, before he leaves office, could delay resolution of NDAA ‘til after the November election.

Earlier NDAA’s have also faced political controversies forcing last-minute, year-end action…but Congress has never missed passing an NDAA for some 53-consecutive years.

Both versions this year would lift all remaining restrictions on Guam civilian build-up funding, especially water and sewer construction, key to handling the added demand of the realignment of Marines.

Other projects also appear to be the same in both bills, including new housing at Anderson Air Force Base…a power upgrade from Harmon to Andersen…and various maintenance, storage and communication facilities.  And the House would authorize funds for Air Force Reserve facilities, including medical training.

Bordallo, meantime, won inclusion in the House version of Guam War Claims–funded with Section 30 federal tax reimbursements for federal personnel on-island–and H-2B visa processing improvements.  

The House has passed War Claims 5-times since the 110th Congress.

Bordallo’s H-2B visa amendment gives USCIS extra flexibility to renew contractor visas and provide enough workers to deal with delays and cost overruns for Guam build-up construction.

Other House provisions would help preserve Guam land holdings…and study a role for the Guam Army National Guard in the THAAD missile defense system.

In the meantime, the separate Military construction bill that funds Guam NDAA projects is also hung up, after the Senate failed earlier to reach a supermajority needed to advance the MILCON bill.  The controversies there—Zika and Planned Parenthood funding.