NDAA Funding For Buildup At Stake
Guam – House-Senate negotiations on the FY ’16 Pentagon budget are on hold, as local build-up issues continue to simmer.
There’s plenty at stake for the build-up, including Senate restrictions on millions in spending for Guam civilian infrastructure and House consultation requirements for DOD land purchases in the CNMI.
But while local issues simmer, the FY ’16 National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA, is in a “holding pattern,” according to Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo’s office. Talks among the Chairs and ranking members of the two armed services committees are at a “standstill” over Guantanamo Bay detention facilities in Cuba and military personnel reform.
The House is in for just one more week, the Senate, two, before the long summer recess. So the question is ‘When will a deal come together?’ “Perhaps, early August…but, we hear these dates, and I have to think this one out a little bit, and I don’t want to give people hope, and then things don’t work out,” said Congresswoman Bordallo.
Without a bill by the end of next week, it appears the FY ’16 NDAA will remain in negotiations through August. NDAA fights in recent years have stretched into December, though the Congress has kept it’s unbroken record of passing the defense bills for some 53-years in a row.
The current uncertainty does not help Guam. The Senate NDAA cuts $20 million dollars, included in the House version for Guam civilian projects. Both versions include just over 272-million for military construction. The Senate bill also lacks a new layer of required military consultations with island and state governors for major land acquisitions while the House-passed NDAA includes consultation language that could directly bear on DOD buys in the NMI. Among those: firing range land in Pagan and possibly, land for a divert airfield.
Also, parties are struggling to find a way to end across-the-board budget cuts or ‘sequestration’ –at least for the Pentagon–that started in 20111 and now threaten to halt action in the Senate on the annual DOD spending bill that actually funds the NDAA. President Obama has threatened to veto the bills, if they continue sequestration.