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  • By Mar-Vc Cagurangan

Trump’s veto of NDAA jeopardizes Guam’s recruitment of H2 workers, stalls public health lab project

Guam’s recruitment of foreign skilled workers for civilian projects on island is likely to be hampered by President Donald Trump’s veto of the 2021 defense spending bill.

Also at stake for Guam is the construction of a public health laboratory,

unless Congress returns from its holiday break to override the president’s veto of the $731-billion National Defense Authorization Act, billed H.R. 6395.

"My administration has taken strong actions to help keep our Nation safe and support our service members," Trump wrote in a message to the House of Representatives. "I will not approve this bill, which would put the interests of the Washington, D.C. establishment over those of the American people."

The has Senate voted 84-14 in favor of H.R. 6395. The bill breezed through the House by a vote of 335-78. This indicates that both chambers have more than the two-thirds majority of their members needed to reverse Trump's thumbs down on the bill.

The NDAA also proposes to authorize $662 million in military buildup spending for Guam.

H.R. 6395 contains language to extend H-2B exemptions for civilian labor projects on Guam.

“We respectfully hope that both parties work to make the NDAA law after Christmas and that its opponents find some other legislative means to fix what they oppose. This is a bill we need to become law,” Gov.0 Lou Leon Guerrero said in a statement.

The bill includes Guam's request for the construction of a public health laboratory.

“As has been said before, public health is what society collectively does to ensure the proper conditions are in place so our people can be healthy,” the governor said. “With a new public health laboratory, we will enhance our present capabilities for early detection, early warning, and early containment of infections and diseases beyond Covid-19."

Leon Guerrero noted that the NDAA has become law for 59 consecutive years “because leaders from both parties recognize that national defense is not a partisan issue.”

The governor said any version of the NDAA would be “fundamentally good for Guam” as it entails pouring millions of federal dollars into the island’s economy.

“Without this measure, we lose critical funding for a new regional Public Health lab and the foreign labor exemption we need for civilian construction projects will disappear. Team Guam fought hard for these provisions and we can’t lose them now,” the governor said.

“I will be working with the National Governors Association and our partners at the Department of Defense to demonstrate why the passage of the NDAA is vital to Guam and communities like it.”

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