VIDEO: D.C. Report – Defense Authorization Stymied in Senate, But That Could Benefit Guam Build-Up

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Guam – An unforeseen turn of events in the U.S. Senate may have tipped the legislative outlook for build-up funding in Guam’s favor. 

HEAR Matt Kaye’s report HERE>>>10-10 senatetwist on buildup.mp3

So much for all that griping by Senators Carl Levin and John McCain over Guam build-up costs and planning problems. That led them to freeze the build-up in their 2012 Defense Authorization Bill.

Even McCain’s ridiculing Senate appropriators for separately approving $33-million for Guam school buses, an artifacts repository and a new mental health clinic now itself seems a bit ridiculous.

That’s because Senate Democrats are holding up their own Defense Authorization Bill in an unrelated White House fight with none other than John McCain over his proposal for handling Guantanimo Bay detainees.

Armed Services Republican Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire on the Senate floor last week:  “I’m the wife of a combat veteran who served in Iraq.
With our country facing a very serious threat from radical islamist terrorists. This would be the first time in half a century, in which we have not passed a national defense authorization act.”

So with the Senate ‘dropping the ball’ on the very bill that says ‘no’ to the Guam build-up, Congressional staffers, including those at Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo’s office, say the budget writing responsibility now falls to appropriators. And the bizarre turn of events could be a big break for the Guam build-up.

While the House and Senate still have a $150-million or so difference on build-up projects, Senate appropriators agree on the $33-million in civilian efforts McCain ridiculed.

And Appropriations Chair Daniel Inouye has said privately, he supports the build-up effort, despite concerns about its execution.

His panel’s ‘yes’ to the $33-million shows a ‘softer hand’ than Levin and McCain, and could signal a greater willingness by Inouye to strike a deal with the House on direct build-up spending.

But Bordallo would not have a seat at the negotiating table since she sits on House Armed Services, not Appropriations. Still, her office says she’s got friends on that panel and would work with them.

Bordallo insisted earlier, Senate Armed Service’s build-up freeze would “not be the final position of the U.S. Congress.”   And with new progress in Japan on the Futenma realignment, she may yet be proven right.