Guam – A U.S. congressional delegation lead by Republican Minnesota Congressman John Kline was on Guam today meeting with local and military officials.
The CODEL is on a fact finding mission to seek global solutions to increase America’s competitiveness in the classroom and thus the workpalce and international trade market. However while here some senators took the opportunity to discuss other topics with CODEL members including the military buildup.
Minnesota Congressman John Kline led a 20 member congressional delegation that included natural resources chairman Doc Hastings. Although the main purpose of the visit was to conduct a fact finding mission on ways to increase America’s competitiveness in the classroom the trip also served to evaluate America’s changing defense and intelligence posture in the region.
The CODEL met with the Governor last night over dinner and again this morning. “They wanted to get an update of how this community stands on the marine realignment and I told them that the vast majority of our people are for this buildup and I know they will be going to the legislature and I did make note that there are a few of the leadership of the legislature that are against this military alignment,” said Governor Calvo.
However none of the lawmakers expressed that the were against the buildup when they met this morning with the DODEL in their public hearing room. There were some protestors holding up various signs but senators only discussed some concerns with things in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).
“What we have read in the Supplemental EIS with regards to this new scope of marines moving to Guam shows an imbalance and when that imbalance occurs then burdens fall on the communities that have to carry the load and in this case the burden at least from the Supplemental EIS falls on the civilian community that the revenues that are gonna be generated by the movement of marines to Guam by construction and so forth is gonna be less than what we need to do to beef up our education our workforce training our crime, police department and such,” said Senator Ben Pangelinan.
“The other issue that of course is very contentious for us is land. Land is our identity as an indigenous people,” said Senator Pangelinan adding, “We believe that if you take a look at the SEIS and you remove one single element of the firing range requirement for the marines for active training on Guam which is the 50 caliber machine gun you can remove the placement of the Surface Danger Zone over the Ritidian Wildlife Refuge and I really think that’s something that needs to be looked at.”
Congressman Kline said that he was glad that the governments of Japan the U.S. and Guam are all working together to resolve issues like these. “I think that the move is an important move and a good move and I’m heartened that the governments are working together to address the issues that you brought up and others,” said Congressman Kline.
Vice-Speaker Cruz brought up the issue of foreign labor for buildup related construction. “We wanted to make sure that it was a local workforce that had first priority before there is any opening for any H2 laborers,” said Cruz.
After first talking about education Speaker Judi Won Pat brought up other federal issues. “I know many times the delegation feels that when they’re coming out here that we’re going to be saying give us everything in the kitchen and all that but one of the things that I like for you to very seriously consider is that you can help us to help ourselves and one of those would be to really look at some of those restrictive laws that currently affects Guam because these are impediments and two of the really biggest ones are the Jones act and the cabotage laws and we’re not asking for full repeal of those laws we’re just saying that there should be a waiver for us here on Guam we’re just so far away practically 98 percent if not greater of all of our goods are shipped into Guam which makes shipping very expensive because they have to come through Hawaii and I know because they’re all U.S. built ships U.S. workers and it makes it very hard for our local economy to grow even for our local businesses to actually thrive,” said Speaker Won Pat.
After meeting with the Governor and local lawmakers this morning the CODEL met with military officials this afternoon. They were slated for departure from Guam this afternoon where they will tour Asian countries.