Thursday, May 01, 2008

Senate Committee Hears About Buildup's Impacts to Guam

Senate committee hears testimony on buildup's impacts on Guam
by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Friday, May 02, 2008

Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and Governor Felix Camacho testified before a U.S. Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy this morning. The full committee hearing was held to hear testimony on the U.S. Military buildup on Guam with regards to its impact on the civilian community. Both elected leaders say they were able to present Guam's concerns and needs related to the military buildup during this morning's hearing.

The congresswoman explains in more detail some of the things she discussed with the full committee, telling KUAM News, "Specifically, I raised the issue of memorandums of understanding between the Government of Guam and their federal counterparts. MOUs will help keep a level of continuity in the buildup process as administrations here in Washington, DC will change at the end of the year."

Governor Camacho says while it was a privilege to sit before the committee. More importantly, it was an opportunity to make the community's case to the Senate about the buildup. "I focused specifically on the fact that this is going to have a severe impact on the people of Guam and that there are monies appropriated to take care of the Department of Defense commitment to the buildup but not to the civilian government, not to the people of Guam," the chief executive recalled.

The governor says he also stressed the importance of MOUs and, in fact, has already coordinated at least one. "We have established a memorandum of understanding with the Maritime Administration, upon which they will administer any funds that would come through, be it federal. It's been back and forth and right now I believe it's with the Maritime Administration for their final acceptance once they sign off on it it'll come back to me. I believe there was a $100,000 commitment as seed money to begin this process," Camacho added.

In addition to MOUs, the congresswoman says she's working on a bill known as the Joint Guam Projects Oversight Act, which she will be introducing shortly. "We cover the MOUs, we cover all of the concerns that the people of Guam have with about this buildup, so we're just putting it in bill form. It will probably be included in the appropriation measure, but we want to be sure it's specific and that we get what we feel is owed to us with this buildup, we're taking care of the people of Guam," Bordallo said. "So certainly I hope this is favorably received."

The congresswoman says this will likely be included in the 2010 Appropriations Act. Both the congresswoman and the governor agree that Guam will need assistance in beefing up the port and it's infrastructure from the U.S. federal government if this move is going to happen. Governor Camacho said, "Something of this nature and magnitude and the severity of it, in such a short compressed timeline, no American community can be expected to be bear such a burden and certainly they could not place that burden on the people of Guam.

"And we are asking and requesting for their help in the way of appropriations."

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