Effects Of Sequestration Bill On Guam Buildup Uncertain

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Department of Defense budget ‘would be hardest hit’

By Cameron Miculka

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Sept. 18, 2012) – Federal agencies could see deep, across-the-board cuts next year.

Last week, the White House Office of Management and Budget released a report detailing how federal agencies would be affected by the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012.

While the only direct mention of Guam in the report, that being the Port of Guam, indicates that the port is exempt from possible budget reductions, that doesn't mean it's certain Guam won't see any indirect effects.

The Navy and Marine Corps construction budget is being slashed by over $3 billion and the Navy and Marine Corps Family Housing Construction budget is being cut by $187 million, according to the report. It's unclear what, if any, effect these cuts could have on the buildup's chances of becoming a reality.

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo said that while the Department of Defense would be hit the hardest by sequestration, there also are concerns about the bill's effect on non-defense programs.

"Although the Department of Defense would be hardest hit, many critical non-defense discretionary programs, including food assistance and education programs, would be significantly impacted as well," she said in a written statement.

Bordallo called for "smarter investments" into the nation's defense and applauded the president for his "renewed emphasis on improving national security and diplomatic relations in the Asia-Pacific region."

Supercommittee

When last year's joint "supercommittee" was tasked with coming up with a plan to reduce the nation's deficit, the sequestration bill was put in place as a trigger that would make drastic cuts to both defense and non-defense programs in order to encourage participation between Republicans and Democrats.

According to the report, because the committee failed to come up with a plan palatable to both the president and Congress, the sequestration bill will result in automatic cuts totaling $1.2 trillion -- minus $216 billion in debt-service savings -- over the next nine years.

The cuts will come from both defense and non-defense functions, according to the White House report, totaling about $54.7 billion in cuts from each side.

Bordallo said she plans to work with other representatives in order to find a way to avoid the slashed budgets.

"We don't need to reach the fiscal cliff," said Bordallo, "but members of Congress must be ready to compromise, something Republican leadership has found difficult this Congress."

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