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House passes FY2012 NDAA

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - U.S. Senators Jim Webb, Carl Levin and John McCain will soon begin debate on their version of the National Defense Authorization Act bill, but today in the nation's capitol the House passed its version of the Fiscal Year 2012 NDAA. The vote on the Act was 322 yea's to 96 nay's.

Specifically for Guam, the measure provides $367 million for military construction projects on Guam and allocates $33 million in federal assistance to the territory for infrastructure improvements as requested in the president's budget. The FY2012 NDAA likewise eliminates the 33% voting share of the Department of the Navy on the Consolidated Commission on Utilities as part of authority to transfer the Navy's water and wastewater assets to the Government of Guam.

The bill however leaves intact a provision included that authorizes the use of unreimbursed compact-impact to offset the fair market value for the transfer of these assets.  Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo however says in discussions with the governor and the legislature, local leaders reached a consensus that keeping this compact-impact offset provision could be of value to Guam and helps to make the case for a federal obligation.

In the meantime the FY2012 NDAA requires the secretary of defense to certify the national security interests for training ranges on Guam.  The certification would establish why it is critical for training facilities to be constructed on Guam to support the marine relocation to the island. The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to begin debate on their version of the defense authorization bill in mid-June.

Eventually the House and Senate bills will be reconciled in conference committee.

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