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House passes HR4435

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4435 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. As we reported Thursday, the House approved the inclusion of Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo’s controversial H.R. 4402 as an amendment.  Her amendment would allow the military to declare a Surface Danger Zone over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge at Ritidian. The amendment would also require the Navy to pay for the relocation and replacement facility should the wildlife refuge be relocated. The SDZ is in anticipation of Northwest Field possibly being selected as the location for a Live Fire Training Range Complex for the Marine’s relocation from Okinawa to Guam. More than 1,000 island residents signed a petition against the SDZ which was submitted to military leaders during recent public hearings on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement of the military buildup.Aside from HR4402 several other provisions are included in the FY15 NDAA that Bordallo’s requested and supported:

  • Fully authorizes for appropriation $128 million in military construction funds for Guam, including $51 million to support steps to establish a fully capable Marine Air-Ground Task Force on Guam;
  • Eliminates current restrictions on obligation and expenditure of Government of Japan and certain U.S. military construction funds for projects related to the realignment of Marines from Okinawa to Guam. These restriction were enacted as section 2822 of the FY14 NDAA;
  • Requires the Departments of Defense and State, in consolation with other federal entities, to develop a strategy and implementation plan to support and sustain the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. Specifically, the report will require the DoD and State to outline the broad strategic goals of the United States in its rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.  More importantly it will require OMB to identify key programs or areas in the budget that could support strategic objectives, and develop guidelines for how to prioritize funding in future fiscal years to support the Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy. 
  • Require a report from the Secretary of the Army in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding the deployment of THAAD to Guam.  In particular, the report would seek greater clarity on the force structure needed to sustain a permanent THAAD presence on Guam;
·         Aligns access to maternity leave for female servicemembers with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guidelines available to federal employees;

  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to establish a program to eradicate the coconut rhinoceros beetle from military installations in Guam and Hawaii within existing INRMPs;
  • Provides for a one year freeze, during FY15, of force structure cuts to the National Guard and require a report to assess the feasibility of any cuts. Specifically the report should contain assessments of the force structure model, cost analysis models, and manning levels, and a comparison of operational readiness;
  • Authorizes the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to appoint, in consultation with the Secretary of the Army and Secretary of the Air Force, the general officers who will serve as Director and Deputy Director of the Army and Air National Guard; an important step to fulfilling the intent of the Guard Empowerment Act by giving the Chief of the National Guard Bureau with the tools to support Joint Chiefs requirements;
  • Clarifies when military personnel could be used for functions that are currently being performed by civilian or contractor personnel. Also requires that any insufficiently military essential position being converted to a military personnel billet would require direct linkage to the Military Occupational Skill as well as a cost-benefit analysis;
  • Requires a report from the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command in consultation with Commander, Pacific Air Forces and Chief, National Guard Bureau about force structure of tanker and airlift assets in the Pacific as well as support for training missions and requirements in the Asia-Pacific region;
·         Rejects all cuts to the TRICARE program and housing allowances contained in the President’s Budget

  • Requires a report from the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics regarding the feasibility of establishing public-private housing ventures (PPV) on Guam;
  • Fully funds Research, Development, Tests and Evaluation of the Long Range Strike bomber program which is critical to our rebalance strategy and maintaining air dominance;
  • Provides additional $1.148 million for the Navy Sea Cadet Corps program;
  • Fully funds the Global Hawk Block 30 program.
H.R. 4435 passed by a vote of 325 yeas to 98 noes. The bill will be reconciled with the Senate’s version of the NDAA during a Conference Committee later this year.

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