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Senate passes 2012 NDAA

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act is one step away from becoming official, all it needs now is President Barack Obama's signature. After Thursday's swift passage by the House, the Senate followed through passing the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Senators Carl Levin, Jim Webb and John McCain have been at the forefront of freezing funding for the Marines' relocation from Okinawa to Guam until such time the Department of Defense provides a master plan for the Guam realignment.

McCain said, "This pause will allow Congress to ensure that the taxpayers' funds invested in our overseas military force posture and basing will afford us the best opportunity to continue our strong alliances in the region while pursuing new arrangements with emerging partners that support security and economic development."

The 2012 NDAA freezes $33 million that would have gone toward the Marines relocation as well as cutting funding for school buses, mental health facility and a cultural artifact repository which was part of the Programmatic Agreement signed between GovGuam and the DOD earlier this year. McCain on the floor today tried to assure his colleagues that just because the buildup is on pause doesn't mean it's been scrapped.

McCain said, "This provision should not be interpreted as a lack of United States commitment to the realignment... and to our (Senate) commitment to realignment. As the President of the United States has stated, we are shifting a lot of our attention to the Pacific region and we understand the importance of the Pacific region in the 21st Century."

The Senate passed the Defense Authorization Bill with a vote 86-13 it now heads to President Obama, where he is likely to sign it. 

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