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U.S. Senator Says Guam Buildup Should Move Forward
Defense authorization bill continues freeze on funding

By Brett Kelman

HAGTA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 7, 2012) – The Senate has passed its version of an omnibus military spending bill, preserving funding restrictions that have halted the military buildup in recent years.

However, Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat from Virginia, who is one of the original authors of these spending restrictions, has said some Guam buildup projects still should move forward.

The number of Marines in Okinawa should be reduced as soon as possible, and there should be a faster timeline for getting Marines to Guam, Webb said in a press release.

"The Department of Defense has not yet provided Congress with the mandated master plan that identifies costs, schedules and other requirements," Webb said. "However, notwithstanding this necessary oversight requirement, we should be responsive and seek to support independent Marine Corps projects on Guam that also serve important training and operational mission in their own right."

The National Defense Authorization Act is an annual law that sets military spending every year. The Senate and the House of Representatives each pass their own version of the bill, then Congress as a whole combines the two into a compromise bill, which is sent to the president for final approval.

In recent years, the House has approved military spending on buildup projects on Guam, but the Senate has withheld funding, insisting the military provide more justification for the Marine move. Ultimately, the spending restrictions have been included in the final version of the bill, which has caused most buildup work to halt.

Now the Senate version of the newest installment of this act for fiscal 2013 includes these same spending restrictions. The Senate passed the bill this week, so now the congressional compromise talks can begin again.

According to the Senate bill, the funds authorized for the buildup will remain frozen until:

  • The commander of the U.S. Pacific Command provides an assessment of Marine forces in the Pacific;
  • The secretary of defense submits a master plan for facilities and infrastructure needed for Marines on Guam, Australia and Hawaii;
  • The secretary of the Navy submits a plan about Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa; and
  • Federal agencies collaborate on a plan for all non-military utilities, facilities and infrastructure on Guam affected by the buildup.

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