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$300 million chopped from the Guam buildup budget

Date Posted: 2010-06-09

Making the argument the money’s being sought too early, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee has slashed $300 million from the bill earmarked for the military buildup on Guam that includes moving 8,000 U.S. Marines and their families from Okinawa.

The committee cut the $567 million bill already approved by the House of Representatives by more than half, as the committee argued the money was requested “ahead of need”. The funding was part of the Pentagon’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year that begins October 1st. The money is necessary for construction to move forward on expanding the primary port in Guam to accommodate long-term aircraft carrier visits, as well as to install Army Air Defense systems on the island.

“I am concerned by the cuts in the Senate’s version of the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2011,” was the way U.S. Representative Madeleine Z. Bordallo reacted the Senate committee decision. Bordallo, Guam’s non-voting delegate to Congress, but notes the Senate committee did the same thing last year and the full Congress overrode it.

The Senate decision did not specify exactly what projects were to be shelved. The House version of the bill included money for improvements to Apra Harbor, site work for the Marines’ new Guam home and creation of a readiness center for the Guam Army National Guard.

The construction is supposed to be complete by 2014, when the Marines are to make the move from Okinawa. That end of the deal is contingent on Japan and the United States getting a Marine Air Wing moved from its current location in a densely populated area of Ginowan City to the Henoko district of northern Okinawa.

Some Guam officials are calling for the project to be slowed, arguing the rapid influx of some 80,000 temporary workers would overload the island. Guam currently has 178,000 residents. A spokesman for the Joint Guam Program Office, U.S. Marine Corps Major Neil Ruggiero, says the project remains on target for completion in 2014.

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