TOKYO — Three of four key congressional committees have cut money budgeted for the U.S. military’s buildup on Guam, Kyodo News reported Thursday.
The latest slashing came Thursday, as the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee cut about $320 million, or 70 percent, for the Guam buildup budgeted for the fiscal year that begins in October, the news agency reported.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee made a similar cut, reducing the spending amount by $279.2 million, according to Kyodo.
In May, the Senate Armed Services Committee took the first cut to $567 million budgeted for the buildup, which includes the move of 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam. At the time, the committee issued a statement saying the Pentagon had requested the money “ahead of need.”
Officials in Guam on Friday said they believed the project would still move forward, though they admitted they share some concerns that the military’s initial plans would tax the island’s infrastructure.
“We understand the Senate’s desire to fund projects related to the buildup only after all needed information has been received,” Lt. Gov. Michael W. Cruz said in a news release. “We remain confident that the mandates of the international agreement mandating the buildup are still in effect.”
Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam’s non-voting delegate to Congress, struck a similar tone.
“Despite these cuts, the Congress remains committed to the realignment of Marines from Okinawa to Guam,” Bordallo said in a statement.
But Bordallo also said the committees’ cuts “send the wrong message at the wrong time,” adding that the slashes “are not final and will be a matter of discussion during conference committee.”
The money, part of the Pentagon’s proposed budget for 2011, is meant to jump-start construction required for the move of 8,600 Marines from Okinawa, expand Guam’s port for long-term aircraft carrier stays, and install an Army air defense unit on the island.