Bordallo delivers stirring congressional address - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Bordallo delivers stirring congressional address

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo delivered her 6th Congressional Address which she prefaced it as being a family discussion at the kitchen table. She said the nation is in transition as the United States continues to recover from a prolonged recession and that the country's economy is turning around but is not yet full recovered.- its within that context -  this age of austerity-  she framed her speech

As expected she spoke about the military buildup and the ongoing negotiations between Japan and the United States regarding amending the 2006 realignment roadmap.

The congresswoman talked about the need for island leaders to speak with one voice and recognized Governor Calvo and the Legislature coming together for the Guam First Commission Advisory Council, which was created with an executive order signed this morning.

Bordallo noted that as Japan and the U.S. renegotiate their 2006 accord, it gives us a chance to reset and re-engage with an even stronger, more determined and more unified message to our federal partners. She did say however it will not be an easy case to make... As House Armed Services Committee Chairman Congressman Buck McKeon in a hearing last week indicated that he is rethinking the realignment in the pacific and suggested that the marines move back to Camp Pendelton in California. Bordallo said although she takes issue with his comment it serves to highlight the challenges ahead and the need for the community to support a marine presence in Guam.

Bordallo in her address also said it was time to get on with the military buildup, she referenced the recent announcement to de-link the Marines relocation from Okinawa to Guam from the contentious issue of the Futenma Replacement Facility. She did warn however that this renegotiation also opens the door about Japan's financial commitment to the realignment a part of which is supposed to go to infrastructure improvements. As 'One Guam' Bordallo said we must continue to stress the need to improve our roads, water and wastewater and other critical infrastructure.

Meanwhile the congresswoman also spoke about veterans programs and measures she has and introduced and supported. Bordallo said she would continue to advocate parity in benefits between veterans living on Guam and those residing in the mainland. And said she would also get to the bottom of the problem as to why veterans on Guam are not being given full military honors when their time on earth has ended.

Bordallo talked about President Obama's Fiscal Year 2013 budget, noting her concerns particularly with the DOD's decision to terminate the Global Hawk Block 30 program, of which three of these unmanned aerial vehicles are stationed at Andersen Air Force Base.

Congresswoman Bordallo also talked about tourism and efforts to secure parole authority for Chinese tourists to visit Guam. She said in her address that we need to find ways to address legitimate security concerns, "The key issue is having an appropriate screening of Chinese visitors with enough lead time to be able to address any concerns." It's estimated that Chinese visitors would result in $145 million in net annual revenues for GovGuam by 2020.

As for war reparations, Bordallo said this continues to be her top legislative priority, "I have not and will not give up efforts to pass this bill but the challenges are significant, one of the challenges is to find funding as a budget offset to meet the concerns of fiscal conservatives."

On education the congresswoman talked about President Obama's recent announcement of his $8 billion community College to Career Fund to help community colleges develop new partnerships with businesses and train workers for well paying jobs. Bordallo says she is working to ensure Guam's full inclusion in the proposal.

On compact impact Bordallo said it's important that we seek ways to address the underlying inadequacies of the Compacts of Free Association and work to lessen the burden on Guam and other affected jurisdictions, but she also said that it is extremely unlikely that Congress will ever appropriate $400 million to $500 million for Guam's compact impact costs. Bordallo added the money is not there and secondly the island's view that we are owed a reimbursement is not shared by congressional leaders.  We should note Bordallo mentioned that next month, DOI Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Tony Babauta is convening a Pacific Island Leaders Meeting to address compact impact.

The congresswoman also talked about the Buy Local initiative and how she intends to introduce legislation that she has nicknamed the Green Grocer Bill. The measure would require commissaries and exchanges in the united states and the territories to purchase for resale food items from local sources.

Throughout her address Congresswoman Bordallo interspersed quotes from past island leaders... Like former congressmen Robert Underwood, Ben Blaz, Antonio Won Pat and former governors like Felix Camacho, Joseph Ada , Paul Calvo and her late husband Ricky Bordallo. Bordallo said she wanted families across our island to reflect on where we've come from and where we want to go.

And just as she began her speech with quotes from past leaders, among the quotes she used to close her speech came from former governor Carl Gutierrez and possible opponent in the upcoming election. "Let us now, set aside past disagreements and try to help our people. Let us use our energies to be positive, forget about the anger and the conflict of the past, I say lets clear the slate, start all over and lets all try to do what's best for our people - all our people." Gutierrez said that in 2006 and tonight Bordallo said she agreed with him.

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