NDAA24 appropriates $1.7B for Guam defense projects
Updated: Jul 18
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The U.S. House of Representatives’ version of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $1.7 billion in spending for military activity and construction on Guam.
The defense spending policy measure, which the House approved last week, raised the appropriation for the Guam missile defense system by $100 million and includes over $200 million in new military housing construction, to help reduce the impact on the local inventory.
The bill, if passed into law, would direct the Secretary of Defense "to determine the feasibility and costs of entering a partnership with the Guam Power Authority to enhance Guam's power grid" and with other Guam utility entities "to harden the infrastructure as it relates with readiness."
Guam Del. James Moylan earlier proposed an extension of Guam’s exemption from the H2B visa national cap, but his amendment didn’t make it to the final version approved by the House Judiciary Committee.
According to Moylan’s office, however, the Guam delegate succeeded in convincing Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono's team to introduce his amendment in the Senate's NDAA bill, and it has been included.
"We are excited to see Guam's heavy presence once again in the NDAA, and this goes back to the importance of being on the Armed Services Committee, participating in the process, attending meetings inclusive of the late-night ones, working with leadership, building relationships, being visible and active, and of course continuing to advocate for our island,” Moylan said.
“While we did not get everything we wanted, we will continue to work toward finding other means to secure them," the delegate said.
"The direct language inserted in the many asks would result in feasibility studies, a cost analysis, and its priority in terms of the military's readiness. This is a standard process prior to seeking funding, which is why we are optimistic about the funding opportunities we can strive for in 2024," added Moylan.
The next process is the passage of the Senate's NDAA, which will lead to the conference where a committee will iron out the issues that differ between the House and Senate's bills.
Moylan is seeking a seat at the HASC as “a conferee” to represent the Indo-Pacific region.
"It would be helpful to sit as a conferee to ensure that our amendments are secured, that the H2B amendment remains, and also to ensure that any language in the Senate bill which addresses Guam but is not a priority, including the one addressing a briefing related to nuclear power, are removed," Moylan said.
Among the Guam-related amendments adopted by House members are:
Directing the DOD Secretary to determine the feasibility and costs of constructing a defense access road.
Directing the DOD Secretary to determine the feasibility and costs of repairing infrastructure damaged by Typhoon Mawar including a collaboration with Guam's mayors.
Directing the DOD Secretary to determine the feasibility and costs of military housing needs to minimize the impact on the local inventory.
Directing the DOD Secretary to determine the feasibility and costs of dredging at the Port Authority of Guam as it relates to the cost of shipping goods to the island.
Directing the DOD Secretary to review the OCOLA rates for service members in Guam, with the intent of taking them back to the 2022 rates.
Authorizing the DOD Secretary to waive cost share requirements for insular areas when it comes to DCIP grants.
Directing the DOD Secretary to justify why he did not execute his authority in temporarily waiving the Jones Act for Guam, as it has been done for other jurisdictions impacted by major storms.
Directing the DOD Secretary to determine the feasibility and costs of bringing back a permanent Ship Repair and Dry Dock facility to Guam, which would help create many jobs.
Increasing the number of nominees for Guam students into the United States Service Academies.
Directing the DOD Secretary to report on the ACSA agreements as it relates to shared resources within the Pacific island nations.