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Senate committee cuts $300M slated for Guam buildup from proposed budget

By TERI WEAVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 3, 2010

TOKYO — The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee last week slashed $300 million earmarked for a U.S. military buildup on Guam because the money was requested “ahead of need,” according to a news release from the committee.

The cut more than halves the $567 million approved last week by the House for the massive military buildup planned for Guam.

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.

“I am concerned by the cuts in the Senate’s version of the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2011,” U.S. Rep. Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam’s non-voting delegate to Congress, said Thursday in a statement.

But she also said the Senate committee’s changes were similar to cuts it made last year involving the Guam buildup that the full Congress later restored.

It was unclear Thursday what Guam-related projects the Senate committee cut. In the House version of the bill, the construction included a readiness center for Guam’s Army National Guard, wharf improvements at Apra Harbor, and site work on the proposed site for the Marines’ new base.

The statement from the Senate committee said only that the money was requested ahead of schedule.

The buildup on Guam is slated to be completed by 2014. Local officials have questioned the ambitious timetable, saying the estimated influx of nearly 80,000 people, including temporary workers, to the island of 178,000 would overwhelm the island.

As of this week, the project remains on the 2014 schedule, according to Marine Corps Maj. Neil Ruggiero, spokesman for the Joint Guam Program Office.

weavert@pstripes.osd.mil