Bordallo War Claims and H-2B Visa Flexibility Amendments Made in Order for Debate on the FY17 NDAA
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo today spoke before the House Committee on Rules to propose the text of H.R. 44, as modified, the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, as an amendment to H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. She also proposed an amendment that would provide the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with flexibility in renewing H-2B visas on Guam. The House Committee on Rules determines the process for considering legislation on the floor of the House as well as what amendments may be offered during debate. The Rules Committee approved both of Congresswoman Bordallo’s amendments, which will be considered tomorrow during continued debate on the FY17 NDAA.
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Congresswoman Bordallo requested that the Rules Committee make the text of H.R. 44, as modified, the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act in order so that she may offer it on the floor of the House. Her amendment would implement recommendations of the Guam War Claims Review Commission and authorize the payment of claims for the survivors of the Japanese occupation of Guam during World War II as well as the descendants of those who died as a result of the occupation. She noted that she has offered a version of this amendment in past years and it had been included in previous defense authorization bills during the 111th Congress. Congresswoman Bordallo’s amendment does not add to federal spending and utilizes a budgetary offset of additional section 30 funding above Fiscal Year 2014 levels that is received by Guam for federal personnel stationed on island. This offset was agreed to by local leaders following objections by fiscally conservatives preventing war claims from being included in the previous year’s defense bills or passed as a standalone measure.
Congresswoman Bordallo also requested that her amendment granting USCIS flexibility in renewing H-2B visas on Guam be made in order so that she may offer it on the floor of the House. Her amendment would provide flexibility to USCIS in extending H-2B visas to employers on Guam who do work in support of the Marine realignment. Congresswoman Bordallo successfully included report language during the HASC markup of the defense bill that encourages DoD and USCIS to work to resolve recent denials of H-2B visa renewals. That language did help to ensure discussion between USCIS and DoD but it became clear that regulatory flexibility did not exist and legislation was needed to grant the flexibility. In her testimony before the Rules Committee, she noted that increased denials has already caused delays on military build-up projects, including the possibility of increasing timelines to complete projects which could led to increased cost to military construction projects.
“I appreciate that the Rules Committee has made my amendment on Guam war claims in order. At the very least, the people of Guam deserve an honest debate on the floor of the House of Representatives regarding this important issue for our community. I thank my friend Congressman Rob Bishop, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee who voted for H.R. 44 as a standalone bill in the 111th Congress and who did not object to my offering the amendment to this year’s defense bill. It is important to bring justice to the people of Guam who suffered and endured this brutal occupation during World War II. Now that this amendment has been made in order, I look forward to the debate on the floor and will fight to succeed. I urge everyone in our community to support this effort when it is debated tomorrow.
“I also appreciate that the Rules Committee allowed my amendment to give flexibility to USCIS for renewing H-2B visas on Guam. These denials place a strain on progress for the Marine realignment and our health care system. I look forward to offering this amendment on the floor of the House and making our case for the importance of this amendment to our national security and our health care system. I urge my colleagues to support it.”