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IN HER Congressional Address last night, entitled “A Family Discussion at Our Kitchen Table,” Delegate Madeleine Bordallo addressed many issues affecting Guam and her role as Guam’s delegate to Washington in addressing those concerns.
Bordallo spoke on the military buildup, saying the $15.3 trillion debt the United States has incurred makes it necessary for Guam to rethink its position on what it actually needs, and that the request for funding “will not be an easy case to make.”
Bordallo emphasized the need to work together as “One Guam,” with one collective voice. She cautioned that the Department of Defense must still achieve five requirements as mandated in the 2012 defense authorization bill before direct contributions from Japan for the realignment of Marines to Guam can be spent.
Bordallo said the renegotiation of the agreement with Japan “will provide a potentially easier path for DOD to achieve those five requirements in a timely fashion.”
Bordallo said the recent de-linking of moving Marines to Guam from the development of a Futenma Replacement Facility was a potentially beneficial move for Guam. “Without the complication ... backlogged military construction projects could move forward.”
Bordallo said with the scrutiny of the U.S. Senate, Guam must not give the impression that it has “thrown every un-met local need into the basket,” and “we must find other ways to address these needs.”
“In an age of austerity, we must be realistic in what we can expect from the Defense budget. It is hard for the Defense Department to justify several million (dollars) for school buses or other infrastructure when the end strength for the Marines and Army are decreasing or when weapons systems are being terminated. Let us use this time of renegotiation to review what our most pressing needs are,” she added.
Bordallo said the buildup was not a guarantee, but an opportunity. Bordallo invited all community stakeholders to participate in the dialogue and to “speak up, speak out, and be heard.”
Bordallo dedicated much of her speech to the plight of Guam’s veterans, saying more must be done for them. Bordallo shared her work in D.C. to further their agenda, such as her commitment to ensuring Guam vets receive federal resources and benefits on parity with those living in the mainland. Bordallo also vowed she will look into the issue of housing allowances.
Bordallo paid tribute to the 34 men and women from Guam who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan by asking for a moment of silence.
Bordallo also acknowledged the dedication of Guam’s National Guard. “Our National Guard has proven time and time again that it is the most effective force for our nation’s defense.”
Bordallo admitted that the past few years have tested the civilian-military relationship on Guam. But she remained confident that with strong leadership, the relationship can be kept positive.
Regarding the China visa waiver program, Bordallo said with the help of Guam leaders, they can convince Washington that strict and enhanced security measures will ensure a conducive environment for military installations.
Throughout her address, Bordallo acknowledged each lawmaker, both Republican and Democrat, and quoted statements from local leaders throughout the years.
Bordallo also addressed the recent statements made by Sen. Frank Blas Jr., who is running against her for the delegate seat, regarding her frequent absences from Guam.
In responding to criticism from the lawmaker that she spends a lot of time in Washington, Bordallo quoted past delegate Ben Blaz who said, “This is one of the disadvantages of being so far away. Unlike my colleagues, I can’t go home every weekend.”
Bordallo also used a quote from former Delegate Robert Underwood, who said: “The delegate from Guam has to travel the farthest from home to Capitol Hill.”
Bordallo said some people have questioned whether she intends to return home.
“Yes, I do intend to come back home. In fact, I plan to stay here forever; and just so you know that I plan to stay here forever, I’ve already purchased a condominium next to Ricky’s condominium in Pigo cemetery,” Bordallo quipped, eliciting good-natured laughter and applause.