by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Senator John McCain isn't giving up on his efforts to exclude funding for the military buildup. In a letter to Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman Senator Daniel Inouye and Vice Chair Senator Thad Cochran, McCain urges them to cut what he calls "unneeded spending for public infrastrcture on Guam" from the Department of Defense section of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which is pending action in the Senate.
In the December 15 letter, McCain urges his colleagues to cut $33 million from the President's budget request for socioeconomic infrastructure improvements on Guam. With the buildup on Guam now "paused", McCain doesn't believe Congress should take money normally used for base operations, supplies and ammunition and use them to address "long standing problems on Guam completely unrelated to the Marine Corps build-up" such as building a cultural artifacts repository, purchasing 53 school buses and building the first phase of a mental health facility to satisfy a federal injunction.
McCain wrote, "I have strong concerns about the challenges and growing costs in a time of severe fiscal constraints of building large new U.S. military facilities and associated training areas on Guam for the permanent stationing of 8,700 Marines and their families.". The Arizona senator adding that the build-up on Guam is contingent on tangible progress towards the construction of a Futenma Replacement Facility which hasn't happened. " As a result of these developments, we believe a pause in further obligations of either U.S. or Government of Japan funds is reasonable pending a study of the strategy and U.S. force posture in the Pacific area of responsibility," he wrote.
McCain's letter comes just days after the House and Senate passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, cutting $155 million for military construction projects on Guam to support the relocation of the Marines.