by Mindy Aguon
Guam - The House of Representatives is defending $33 million in infrastructure improvements that Senator John McCain is pushing to have cut from the Defense Appropriations Act, calling them unrelated to the military buildup on Guam. Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo issued the following press release in response.
Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo today announced that House and Senate appropriators included language in H.R. 2055, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2012, that would appropriate and provide the necessary authorization for $33 million from the Office of Economic Adjustment for socioeconomic projects on Guam. H.R. 2055 passed the House by a vote of 296 yeas to 121 noes, and the Senate by a vote of 67 yeas to 32 noes. President Obama has indicated that he will sign the legislation.
On Friday, Congresswoman Bordallo discussed this provision on the House floor with Congressman Norm Dicks, the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, to clarify the intent of the legislation. Congressman Dicks reaffirmed to the Congresswoman that the Appropriations Committee's intent is for the language of the bill to provide the necessary authorization for the Department of Defense to utilize funds intended for civilian infrastructure requirements on Guam, in compliance with section 2207 which established restrictions added by Ranking Member McCain in the defense authorization bill. However, the Department of Defense will have to make a final determination on whether these funds can be transferred to other Federal agencies to benefit Guam.
H.R. 2055 appropriates $33 million for civilian infrastructure improvements on Guam through the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment in response to the realignment of U.S. Marine Corps forces to Guam. The bill would provide the necessary appropriation and sufficient authorization for the Secretary of Defense to utilize these funds specifically to address the need for vehicles and supplies for civilian student transportation, the construction of a cultural repository for cultural artifacts unearthed during current and future military construction, and the construction of a mental health and substance abuse facility on Guam. The funding for this infrastructure was done through a validated process and in accordance with the Economic Adjustment Committee criteria.
"These infrastructure improvements will help to ensure that Guam is able to sustain the additional military presence anticipated from the build-up," said Congresswoman Bordallo. "The funding for these socioeconomic projects fulfill an agreement made between the Administration and the Government of Guam, and I thank my colleagues on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for including this language in Consolidated Appropriations Act. I encourage the Department of Defense to utilize the authority provided in this legislation, consistent with Congressional intent, and I will work with them to have these funds transferred."