WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo worked to protect and include items important to Guam during a full committee hearing of the House Armed Services Committee to markup H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.
Bordallo led an effort to oppose an amendment offered by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) that provides the DoD with broad authority to prevent the designation of federal properties as National Historic Landmarks, World Heritage Sites, or as listing on the National Register of Historic Places, without input from local communities. Congresswoman Bordallo expressed her opposition to this amendment and argued that community input is critical to the designation process and should be considered by the DoD and other federal agencies. She argued that the DoD already has authority to stop the process after a comment period if designation would impact national security; however the amendment allows DoD to bypass the comment period. She also noted that the process works as intended and said that in Guam, community input was critical during consideration of a site for a firing range for the Marine realignment. Specifically, she cited concerns raised by our local community to prevent the development of Pagat for the live-fire training range for the U.S. Marine Corps, which lead to further investigation and ultimate decision to use DoD land on Andersen Air Force Base. She believes that local communities should have a voice in the designation of historic areas and DoD should not have a veto over the entire process.
Bordallo also worked with Republican leadership on HASC to include report language to address the high rates of denial of H-2B visa renewal applications. The committee agreed with Bordallo’s language that expresses the committee’s concerns that these denials could impact ongoing and future projects on Guam and encourages the DoD to work with federal agencies to ensure that H-2B visa applications are appropriately processed and that there is sufficient workforce to meet construction demands.
“I believe that DoD should work with local communities, stakeholders, and federal agencies when there are proposals to designate federal property as national landmarks or place them on the National Register of Historic Places. DoD should not have unilateral authority to stop this process without input from or collaboration with local communities. Many of these areas have cultural significance to the native populations, and I believe the process that is currently in place works as it is intended. Our people provided important and necessary feedback to the DoD during discussions of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Marine realignment, and it allowed DoD to take local concerns into consideration when readdressing the location of a firing range from Pagat to Andersen Air Force Base. While there are still concerns that we work to resolve, it allowed our people to have a say in the process, which I believe is critical to relationships between local and military partners.
“I am pleased that the committee has adopted report language to address key concerns on the high rates of denial for H-2B visa renewal applications. These denials could impact critical labor needs in Guam, especially in the construction trades industry. While I strongly support efforts to build our workforce locally, the demand for specialization and expertise of these positions cannot be met by what is currently available on island. In the meantime, the committee has directed DoD to work with USCIS and other federal agencies to address these concerns and ensure that H-2B are appropriately processed so that there is a sufficient workforce to meet labor demands. And I will continue to support programs that promote workforce development and training for our local population.”