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    Sunday, April 22, 2018-8:56:03P.M.






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US House passes FY ‘18 Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Office of the Guam Congressional Delegate) — U.S. Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo announced that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 by a vote of 344 yeas to 81 noes.

H.R. 2810 authorizes $621.5 billion for national defense programs as well as an additional $74.6 billion for overseas contingency operations. It will be reconciled with the Senate version of the FY 2018 NDAA later this year.

Madeleine Z. BordalloMadeleine Z. Bordallo

H.R. 2810 authorizes $9.7 billion for military construction, including $354.654 million for Guam that authorizes the full appropriations passed by the House Appropriations Committee earlier this month. Military constructions projects continue the ongoing progress on the Marine realignment as well as current operations which include the hardening of select military facilities.

The House of Representatives also maintained provisions included by Congresswoman Bordallo during the House Armed Services Committee’s markup. The bill addresses the ongoing H-2B visa crisis on Guam by granting U.S. Customs and Immigration Services flexibility to reverse the rate of denials for H-2B visas related to military construction and health care on Guam; a similar provision was included in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the NDAA and differences will be reconciled in Conference Committee.

The bill also maintains Congresswoman Bordallo’s provisions requiring the Navy to convey the former Ship Repair Facility to the Guam Economic Development Authority, at no cost to the Government of Guam; requiring the Government Accountability Office to perform an independent review to determine if Agent Orange, or other dioxin-based herbicides, were ever transited through, or stored or used on Guam, using available documentation and stakeholder engagement; limiting the use of certain funds for the Office of the Secretary of the Navy until such time as a Request for Proposal to re-establish dry-docking capabilities in the Western Pacific has been issued; and requiring the Navy to address outstanding concerns regarding the clearance of Munitions and Explosives of Concern.

“I continue to have serious concerns by the use of OCO funding for non-contingency operations, but this is a good bill that provides our men and women in uniform and their families with the resources they need to fulfill their mission and keep our country safe. I am especially proud that the bill continues the progress we are making to move forward with the Marine Realignment and provide nearly $355 million for military construction projects in Guam. The bill also includes my provision to address Guam’s H-2B visa crisis and provide USCIS with authority to reverse the nearly 100 percent denial rate for our construction and healthcare industries and extend Guam’s exemption from national caps until 2020. The Senate Armed Services Committee included a similar provision in its version of the NDAA, and I will work in Conference to resolve the differences between their provision and ours. We must have an adequate workforce on Guam that is able to support our civilian and military needs.

“Additionally, I am pleased that the House maintained a provision I sponsored in Committee to convey the Navy’s former Ship Repair Facility to GEDA at no cost to GovGuam. Doing so will allow Guam to leverage this resource to enhance our ship repair capabilities and provide specialized, good paying jobs to our local workforce.

“The bill also includes language to further investigate whether Agent Orange was used, stored, or transshipped through Guam. We need fact-based information that takes into account available documentation as well as community input to determine the extent, if any, that these or similar chemicals were used on Guam and how to move forward with addressing this matter.

“This is a good bill for our community and nation. I look forward to protecting provisions important to Guam when the House and Senate meet in Conference Committee later this year.”