The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes $639 billion for national defense programs, allocates $377.2 million for military construction on Guam.
The House Armed Services Committee reported the NDAA bill, H.R. 5515 to the full House of Representatives by a vote of 60 ayes to one no.
“The NDAA also continues Congress’ firm commitment to the Marine realignment and provides $377.2 million for military construction projects on Guam,” Guam Delegate to Congress Madeleine Bordallo said.
H.R. 5515 authorizes $11.2 billion for military construction, including the $377.2 million appropriated for projects related to relocation of 5,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam. The appropriation includes housing projects and wharf improvement at Anderson Air Force Base
Fiscal Year 2019 Military Construction Authorization for Guam
ACE Gym & Dining 27,910,000
Earth Covered Magazines 52,270,000
Machine Gun Range 70,000,000
Ordnance Ops 22,020,000
Unaccompanied Enlisted Housing 36,170,000
X-Ray Wharf Improvements (Berth 2) 75,600,000
Hayman Munitions Storage Igloos MSA 2 9,800,000
Replace Andersen Housing Phase III 83,441,000
Guam Total $ 377,211,000
The NDAA includes provisions that seek to address Guam’s ongoing labor challenges. The provisions, sponsored by Bordallo, would extend Guam’s exemption from the national H-2B caps through fiscal year 2020; provides USCIS with flexibility to approve H-2B visas applications of health care workers for Guam; and would permit H-2B workers admitted to Guam to reenter as a returning worker without counting against the national caps.
Bordallo leveraged her seniority as the Ranking Member of the Readiness Subcommittee to include this provision as part of an en bloc package of amendments adopted unanimously by the committee.
The HASC also approved a provision that will codify in federal law the Navy’s “net-negative” commitment to the people of Guam that the military will own less land than it started with after the completion of the Marine realignment.
Bordallo included this provision during the Readiness Subcommittee’s markup to require the Secretary of the Navy to establish, maintain, and regularly update a publicly accessible inventory of real property on Guam that the Navy expects to be transferred to the government of Guam as part of the “net-negative” commitment. She also establishes a formal mechanism for the Governor of Guam to petition the Secretary to add specific parcels to the inventory.
Bordallo said the NDAA “supports American jobs on Guam and in the region by closing loopholes that allowed the Navy to perform scheduled maintenance of Navy ships in foreign shipyards. Rather, my provision would require that this work be conducted, as originally intended by Congress, in an American shipyard on Guam or in the U.S.”
The bill further includes other provisions that would require the Navy to perform scheduled repairs and maintenance of naval vessels without a homeport in shipyards located in the United States or Guam. It would also prohibit the Navy from developing the former Guam Ship Repair Facility (SRF) for use other than depot-level ship maintenance.
“The House Armed Services Committee continues our tradition of passing a bipartisan defense bill that gives our service members and their families the support and resources they need to perform their missions at home and around the world,” Bordallo said.
“This bill has provisions important to Guam that highlight Congress’ continued support for our island. Specifically the bill builds on the progress I made in last year’s defense bill to address Guam’s labor challenges. It would provide an extension to Guam’s exemption from the national H-2B visa cap through fiscal year 2020, provide flexibly for the approval of health care workers to enter Guam, and authorizes a returning worker program for H-2B workers to reenter Guam without counting against the national caps. This is another step in the right direction to ease Guam’s labor challenges and is part of my efforts to provide broad relief to our civilian community.
“The bill also holds the Navy accountable to its commitment to hold less land on Guam at the completion of the Marine realignment. I am committed to providing more transparency over what lands the Navy intends to return back to GovGuam and give our civilian leadership more say in properties that should be returned. To that end, the bill includes my provision to make the Navy’s list of lands to be returned available on a public website as well as give the Governor of Guam a formal mechanism to petition for specific properties to be returned. The Navy must make real concessions to Guam as part of this commitment, and my provision ensures that they are held accountable to this pledge.
“This is a good bill that will bolster military readiness, support our service members and their families, and enhance our national security. I look forward to its consideration by the full House of Representatives and enactment into law later this year.”