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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bordallo secures visa waiver language in budget bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU) issued the following statement on the House Committee on Appropriations approving its version of the fiscal year 2014 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. The bill provides $38.9 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security. The bill will likely be considered by the full House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

Bordallo requested that report language be included in the bill to address concerns about progress on expanding the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program. Specifically, the language instructs the Department of Homeland Security to finalize deliberations on the expansion of the program on Guam. The Committee urges DoD to include appropriate security protocols as necessary. The report language builds off the progress initiated by Bordallo in 2008 with passage of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act to establish a regional visa waiver program that would expand tourism in the Marianas region.

“It is important for the Department of Homeland Security to finalize their deliberations on expanding the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program and comply with original Congressional intent of expanding tourism to the islands,” said Bordallo. “I appreciate the help and support of Subcommittee Chairman John Carter and Ranking Member David Price of North Carolina for including this report language to hold DHS accountable. The expansion of our tourism industry is critical to the long-term economic growth of our island. We have made a lot of progress on this issue and I appreciate efforts to address security concerns raised by some federal agencies. However, the solutions to their concerns have been discussed by the stakeholders and are achievable. I believe this report language will help to re-focus DHS’s decision-making and continue the discussion on how we solve the identified problems. It is important that we end the disparate set of rules regarding the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program and meet Congressional intent by establishing a common set of regulations for all visitors to the region.”

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