President Donald Trump has signed into law the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which authorizes $648 billion for the Department of Defense and defense-related programs with an additional $69 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations funds for war operations and other anti-terror activities for a total of $717 billion.
The NDAA authorizes $448.5 million for military construction projects on Guam to support the ongoing progress of the Marine realignment including $75.6 million for X-Ray Wharf Improvements. The law fully authorizes $141 million for a machine gun range with half authorized to be spent in fiscal year 2019.
The law further builds on authorizations in the FY 2018 NDAA and provides further flexibility for the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services to administer the H-2B visa program on Guam. Specifically, the agreement further extends the 2018 NDAA’s exemption from the temporary work requirement until Dec. 31, 2023. It further allows for the admittance of healthcare workers to Guam through the H-2B visa program to augment the increased need for skilled healthcare supporting the buildup at medical facilities that jointly serve members of the Armed Forces, dependents, and civilians on Guam.
Guam’s Delegate to Congress, Madeleine Bordallo, has introduced H.R. 6480, the Guam Temporary Workforce Act, which would give the governor of Guam more control over the temporary labor determination process by providing him with authority determine the need for temporary workers in Guam’s civilian labor market. The bill would also provide the governor with the ability to safeguard the local economy from an overreliance on temporary workers.
Also included in the NDAA is the Department of Defense’s “Net-Negative” land return commitment, which requires the military to hold less lands on Guam than it did when the buildup started. This provision also establishes a formal process by which the Governor of Guam can formally request additional land previously held by the military in addition to those already outlined in law.
Bordallo also secured language to support the Guam and U.S. ship repair industry by preventing the Navy from redeveloping of the Former Ship Repair Facility in Guam for any purpose other than a depot-level ship repair capability.
“Today, President Trump signed into law the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. I secured a number of key provisions for Guam that will benefit our community inside and outside the fence. Importantly, the law makes permanent the Navy’s promise to hold less land on Guam and requires them to make the list of lands it intends to return to GovGuam publically available," Bordallo said. “I look forward to this law providing our servicemembers with the resources they need to carry out their mission. I am also confident that the provisions I secured for Guam will help to strengthen our security and grow our economy in a way that is responsible and good for our island.”