Congress nixes Trump's proposed budget cut for territories
Guam Delegate to Congress says Guam federal programs actually got more money despite Trump threats
Before he jetted off to yet another weekend at his Mara-Lago Resort in Florida, President Donald Trump confounded his Republican allies in Congress once again before finally putting his signature on the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act.
Trump had first assured legislative leaders he would sign the gargantuan-sized bill, which among other things, adds $1.3 trillion to the U.S. deficit and doesn't actually fund the Mexican border wall, while keeping the federal government operating. Then the chief executive threatened to veto the measure and said he would never sign such a bill again before confirming he had already signed it.
Meanwhile, Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo welcomed the Omnibus Act, which rejected Trump's earlier proposal to cut the federal appropriation for U.S. territories by 18 percent.
Bordallo noted that the Omnibus Act actually increases federal funding for key priorities including:
$1.216 million increase in discretionary federal assistance grants to the territories over last year, from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. President Trump’s budget requested just $14.671 million, but Congress ultimately provided $18.0 million for fiscal year 2018 in this omnibus law. In fiscal year 2017, Congress provided $16.784 million.
$1 million increase in discretionary federal reimbursement for Compact impact over last year, for a total of $4.0 million in discretionary Compact impact grants for fiscal year 2018. This $4 million is in addition to the $30 million in mandatory Compact impact reimbursement that Guam splits with Hawai’i, the CNMI, and American Samoa each year. President Trump’s budget proposed to eliminate discretionary Compact impact reimbursement to GovGuam for fiscal year 2018. In fiscal year 2017, Congress provided $3.0 million for discretionary Compact impact.
$950,000 increase in federal funding for the Office of Affairs’ Coral Reef Initiative over last year, which provides grants to help protect Guam’s coral reefs. President Trump’s budget requested just $946,000, but Congress provided $2.2 million for fiscal year 2018 under the omnibus law. Congress provided $1.25 million in fiscal year 2017.
Maintains level funding at $3.5 million for the Office of Insular Affairs’ program to combat the invasive brown tree snake on Guam. This grant funding builds upon Congresswoman Bordallo’s Brown Tree Snake Control and Eradication Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-38)"
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“This is not a perfect bill," Bordallo said, "but FY18 omnibus appropriations act makes important investments for our working families and communities, and it provides a level of certainty for our federal agencies and employees for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Importantly for Guam, the law rejects devastating cuts proposed in the President’s budget for key programs that benefit Guam. In fact, Congress approved increased funding for several programs, including discretionary Compact impact, the Coral Reef Initiative, and technical assistance provided through the Office of Insular Affairs.
"With GovGuam’s current budgetary crisis, we need federal support now more than ever. I continue working in Congress to bring federal resources to Guam to improve the lives of all our residents," Bordallo said. "The people of Guam are Americans, and we deserve nothing less than equal, full support from our federal government.”