The U.S. Air Force divert airfield projects would bring in a total of $50.7 million to Tinian after President Donald J. Trump signed H.R. 5515 or the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019.
The CNMI government had already signed a programmatic agreement for the divert airfield on Tinian, which was chosen after a review under the National Environmental Protection Act, the CNMI Final Environmental Impact System, and the series of meetings between local officials and their federal counterparts.
The $46 million will fund the construction of a cargo pad and taxiway extension while the remaining money, $4.7 million, will be used in building a maintenance support facility at the northern portion of the Tinian International Airport.
Section 2863 of the NDAA also prevents the U.S. Department of Defense in building public infrastructure until an Economic Adjustment Committee submits a report to the U.S. Congress on what civilian projects could support all military activities. The EAC report is due in May of next year.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan (Ind-MP) said on his website that U.S. Congress will wait for the report before making any decision whether to fund or not civilian infrastructures on Tinian or elsewhere in the Marianas.
“In all, the 2019 NDAA authorizes $717 billion for defense spending for fiscal 2019. It raises military pay by 2.6 percent and increases troop levels across the Armed Forces by about 16,000,” said Sablan.
Section 621 of the NDAA also gives eligible veterans and their caregivers access to morale, welfare, and recreation facilities in other parts of the world aside from the Saipan Exchange Store and all other military commissaries.
Purple Heart and Medal of Honor recipients, former prisoner of wars, and veterans that got injured while on service are the eligible veterans classified under Section 621. The new benefit takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
The NDAA will also extend the Military OneSource program by one year after separation or retirement from active military service from the current 180 days.
“The program helps with the transition from military to civilian life. Active-duty, National Guard, and reserve service members are eligible for the OneSource program, along with their families and survivors,” added Sablan.