U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today sent a letter to Senators Daniel Inouye and Thad Cochran, Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, urging them to exclude unneeded spending for public infrastructure on Guam from the Department of Defense section of H.R. 3671, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 pending action in the Senate.
Letter below and attached.
December 15, 2011
The Honorable Daniel Inouye The Honorable Thad Cochran
Chairman Vice Chairman
Committee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations
The Capitol, Room S-128 The Capitol, Room S-128
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Inouye and Vice Chairman Cochran:
I write to you about matter in the Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The President's budget request included $33 million in the operations and maintenance account for the Department of Defense to be transferred to other federal agencies to carry out socioeconomic infrastructure improvements on Guam. It is our understanding these funds are intended to be used to purchase 53 civilian school buses and to construct a cultural artifacts repository (museum) and a mental health facility on Guam. The budget justification states that the funds are required in 2012 to address the impact of the relocation of 8,700 Marines and their families from Okinawa to Guam as well as the temporary migrant workforce that will be needed to support over $20 billion in new construction for facilities required to support the realignment.
I have strong concerns about the challenges and growing costs in a time of severe fiscal constraints of building large new U.S. military facilities and associated training areas on Guam for the permanent stationing of 8,700 Marines and their families. In addition, the Defense Policy Review Initiative as detailed in the 2005 U.S.-Japan Alliance Transformation and Realignment for the Future and the U.S.-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation agreement ("Roadmap agreement') of 2006 requires the realignment of forces to Guam to be contingent on tangible progress towards the construction of a Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) for U.S. Marine air assets remaining on Okinawa. To date, there has been no tangible progress on the construction of the FRF. As a result of these developments, we believe a pause in further obligations of either U.S. or Government of Japan funds is reasonable pending a study of the strategy and U.S. force posture in the Pacific area of responsibility.
As you know, the omnibus appropriations bill about to come to the Senate floor includes the conference report of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The conferees for this bill, working with the conferees on the National Defense Authorization Act, decided to strike $155 million requested by the President for military construction projects on Guam supporting the relocation of the Marines. As a result there will be no need for a migrant work force and no Marines or their families moving to Guam in 2012.
I do not believe Congress should take funds normally spent on base operations, supplies, ammunition, and critical training and allow them to be transferred to other federal agencies to address long standing problems on Guam completely unrelated to the Marine Corps build-up. The $12.7 million proposed for the cultural artifacts repository will be used to build a 20,000 square foot museum facility mostly for the storage of existing artifacts and existing administration completely unrelated to the major military construction projects associated with the build-up on Guam that has now been paused. The Guam Government plans to use $10.7 million to purchase 53 school buses for immediate service to address an existing school bus deficiency long before the first Marines or their families arrive on the island. The $9.6 million for the first phase of the mental health facility (the second phase would be part of a $33 million Defense budget request for Fiscal Year 2013) is required to satisfy a current federal injunction that mandates the construction of a new facility. The Department of Defense has no estimate to what extent the mental health facility or buses would actually be used by people associated with the realignment, none of whom will be on Guam in 2012.
I believe it is imperative that the omnibus appropriations bill reflect the deliberate decision of the Senate Armed Services and House Armed Services conferees regarding the responsible use of defense funds in both the military construction and operations and maintenance accounts in order to maintain a consistent Congressional position.