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Back Local News Senate adopts McCain amendment, cuts Guam funding

Senate adopts McCain amendment, cuts Guam funding

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THE U.S. Senate has adopted Sen. John McCain's amendment to the Consolidated and Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013, or H.R. 933, effectively eliminating $120 million for civilian infrastructure projects on Guam.

The amendment removed funding support for critical Guam infrastructure projects, specifically water and wastewater treatment systems on the island as well as a regional public health laboratory.

Sen. Frank B. Aguon, chairman of the committee on Guam-U.S. military relocation, had sent a letter to McCain requesting him to reconsider his amendment to H.R. 933.

In his letter, Aguon mentioned the July 2010 environmental impact statement, where the U.S. Department of Defense "acknowledges the existing sub-standard conditions of utility infrastructure systems on Guam ... [and] recognizes the constraints on GovGuam to be able to address these indirect impacts of the proposed military relocation."

Aguon also claims the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report McCain referenced in a recent statement contradicts the Arizona senator's position, with the report's recommendation to "prioritize improvements on Guam, focusing on roads and infrastructure improvements such as pipeline protection that would be mission-essential even if fewer Marines move to Guam from Okinawa."

Aguon also pointed out that McCain's concerns over budgetary pressures "seem somewhat inconsistent," given Rep. Raul Grijalva, also from Arizona, just recently introduced H.R. 548, a bill appropriating "$200 million for fiscal year 2014 solely for integrated fixed towers, remote video cameras, hand-held devices, mobile systems, and other technologies in Arizona."

Appalled

Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo also issued a statement in response to the amendment, saying she is appalled that Sen. McCain continues to use funding for Guam projects as an example of “pork barrel” spending, adding McCain dismissed water and wastewater improvements – which are already overburdened by Guam’s existing civilian and military populations – as “egregious and unnecessary.”

"Sen. McCain blurred reality in his statements on the floor of the Senate and muddled the importance of this investment. Moreover, Sen. McCain insisted on an earmark to CSIS to develop an independent assessment of the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. That very report he so strongly advocated for urged the DOD to support certain civilian infrastructure projects and the authors further amplified this point at a hearing last summer," Bordallo said.

The authors of the CSIS report, she said, indicated there was a historical basis for supporting civilian infrastructure. During a hearing on this report, Bordallo said the authors highlighted the need and precedence for investing in civilian infrastructure projects in places where significant base realignments are expected to occur.

"This amendment removes important authorization language that would have allowed the Department of Defense to transfer the civilian infrastructure funds to Guam. I am deeply disappointed that this amendment was included in the Senate’s Continuing Resolution, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to secure authority to transfer these funds that would ensure the Guam and Pacific realignments are prioritized as we consider the defense bill for fiscal year 2014,” Bordallo concluded.

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