White House Objects to Panel’s Decision to Defer Funding Guam Realignment

The White House warned Wednesday that Senate appropriators’ decision to defer funding for fiscal 2012 military construction projects needed to carry out the relocation of 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam “could signal that the U.S. does not stand by its allies or its agreements.”

The Obama administration’s protest, contained in its formal response to the FY 2012 military construction and veterans affairs spending bill the Senate Appropriations Committee approved June 30, comes as the Senate Wednesday approved a motion to take up the bill, H.R. 2055. The Statement of Administration Policy, however, does not threaten a veto of the measure and calls for lawmakers to pass it.

The Appropriations Committee was critical of the Pentagon’s plans for restructuring military forces in the Pacific Command, focusing on the lack of a final price tag for the construction effort needed to accommodate the move to Guam as well as the decision to shift from unaccompanied to lengthier accompanied tours in South Korea, according to its report accompanying the milcon spending bill.

The department has requested $1 billion since FY 2010 to implement elements of the Marine Corps buildup on Guam, but it “has yet to produce a comprehensive master plan, realistic cost estimate, or construction timeline encompassing all elements of the plan,” the committee noted. The Government Accountability Office recently reported that it had identified $29.1 billion in costs to realign troops in Japan and Guam, but said that a total cost estimate was unavailable due to the uncertainty associated with the move’s implementation schedule.

Lawmakers also criticized DOD’s plans for failing to address civilian infrastructure improvements needed on Guam to handle the population influx.

Other concerns the committee highlighted were the nation’s debt crisis and the strength of popular opposition in Japan to the current plan to move Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to another site on Okinawa.

The committee report, S. Rpt. 112-29, is available on Thomas. The Senate bill is a substitute version of H.R. 2055.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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