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Bordallo address island issues

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - During her annual congressional address she touched all the key points as expected in terms of providing an update on the military buildup, Compact impact, Obamacare, veterans issues , war claims as well as political status.

The theme throughout her speech was the idea of finding common ground in confronting problems and working toward solutions.

The congresswoman began her address by honoring former congressman Ben Blaz who passed away earlier this year.  Bordallo said Blaz set an example as a leader who could set aside differences commit to doing what is right for our people , and find common ground to improve the quality of life on this island that we all love.

-On the Asia Pacific rebalance: Bordallo note that as a ranking member of the readiness subcommittee they were able to find common ground with the Senate on the realignment. Citing last year's defense authorization bill lifted some of the most severe restrictions on the use of government of Japan and U.S. military construction funds. She also made note of President Obama's proposed Fiscal Year 15 budget that contains $128 million in funding for Guam military infrastructure. Bordallo reminded the community that the supplemental EIS will be release in the very near future. That will provide the community the opportunity to give input on where the marines will be housed and the location for a firing range.  As we reported the navy is looking at northwest field for the proposed firing range as well as existing DoD lands in Finegayan for the main base.  Bordallo believes the navy is trying to be responsive to our island's fundamental concerns.  She added that if we want the realignment to happen we must find common ground within our community on this important issue.

-On war claims the congresswoman talked about all the efforts she's made such as proposing an offset to the cost of paying war claims that would satisfy the budget objections raised by the conservatives in Congress. But despite those efforts passing war claims has been a difficult task. Quote-the truth is many conservatives will continue to object to this bill on purely ideological grounds and no arguments or moral obligation or social injustice will change their viewrs. But she said she pledges to continue to fight so that our man'amko receive the recognition they justly deserve.

-On the economy: the congresswoman  talked about expansion of the island's tourism industry, adding she just learned about an effort to add Vietnam to the list of visa waiver countries that visit Guam and she will support this promising proposal. She added that she will also continue to try to overcome objections to our request to add the Philippines to the visa waiver program.

-On Compact impact the congresswoman said she would continue to push the federal government to increase its compact assistance. She added that given the fiscal challenges in Washington we must find alternative solutions that contribute to a more sustainable policy . She did note that one of the key setbacks to analyzing how to move forward with addressing compact impact is the lack of guidance from the department of the interior on how the affected jurisdictions are to accurately account for the true costs of these services.

-On healthcare the congresswoman recognized the many challenges confronting the US territories with Obamacare. She said she recognizes that the Affordable Care Act is an imperfect law especially as it applies to the territories but we must find ways to make it work on Guam so that our people may benefit and live healthier lives.

-The congresswoman ended her address by talking about political status saying that in her view self determination is the most important long term goal for our island adding that undoubtedly there are differences in how self determination should move forward but we must find common ground to finally move the process along.

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