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Bordallo touches on "finding common ground"

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - As expected, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo touched on all key federal issues during her congressional address last night. She provided an update on the military buildup, Compact impact,  Obamacare, veterans issues , war claims as well as political status.

The theme throughout the congresswoman's speech was "Finding Common Ground in Confronting Problems and Working Toward Solutions". She began her address by honoring former congressman Ben Blaz who passed away earlier this year. "As a congressman Ben 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 we love so dearly," she annouced.

-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 US 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 released 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.

"If we want this realignment to happen we must find common ground within our community on this important issue. And in finding common ground, our 'One Guam' approach will have impact.  I pledge to work with Governor Calvo, the Legislature and all of our stakeholders to find that common ground," she said.

-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, saying, "The truth is many conservatives will continue to object to this bill on purely ideological grounds and no arguments of moral obligation or social injustice will change their views."

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 supports local efforts 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. 

-On healthcare the congresswoman recognized 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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