WATCH: Moylan questions the Secretary of Defense

(Washington D.C.). Earlier today during the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Hearing on the 2024 Defense Budget, Delegate James Moylan had the opportunity to ask a few questions to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense, Lloyd Austin and the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley. Delegate Moylan focused on three issues:

1. The extension of the H2B visa, which currently is projected to end on December 31, 2024.

2. The reduction of the Overseas Cost of Living Adjustment (OCOLA) for Servicemembers.

3. The contract for an independent assessment of the Guam Air Missile Defense System.

In regard to the H2B visa extension, Delegate Moylan asked Secretary Austin if he would support extending the deadline to meet the timelines projected for the completion of the construction of Camp Blaz, which is in 2029, and the Secretary not only agreed to it, but encouraged the members of Congress to support the effort as well.

“I am elated that Secretary Austin agrees with the intention of extending the timelines to end the H2B visa for Guam and the CNMI by another five years. I recently introduced HR 1760 which intends to do just this, and its gaining traction among several members in HASC, and I am glad that the administration feels the same. This is more than just about addressing activity inside the fence, but creates economic opportunities for the island, and an increase in a skilled labor pool will also help our struggling housing market”, states Delegate Moylan.

In regards to the OCOLA, Secretary Austin stated that one of his Assistant Secretaries is reviewing the waiver request submitted by Rear Admiral Nicholson which would take the OCOLA levels back to the amounts provided prior to March 15, 2023.

“While we did not receive the answer we were hoping for, there was optimism that the request with reversing the OCOLA levels for the INDOPACOM region was being carefully considered. Our team continues to press the issue with various DOD liaisons, as this issue is more than just an economic opportunity for our island, but it also represents an inequity which needs to be reversed” added Delegate Moylan.

In regards to the issue with the contract for an independent assessment of the Guam Air Missile Defense System, which was required by statute through the 2023 National Defense Act, Secretary Austin indicated that one will be issued by the end of the month. This is a critical assessment and the timeline to award the contract ended at the start of the month.

“We are glad to see that the highest levels of the Department of Defense recognize the importance of ensuring our people are safe, and this assessment plays a large role in the process. I would like to thank Dr.Kenneth Kuper, Director of Pacific Center for Island Security for raising this issue earlier in the month. We will continue to monitor things. To add to this, yesterday our office submitted an amendment to the 2024 NDAA budget bill to actually increase the funding for the Guam Defense by an additional $147 million, based on a recommendation provided by the Admiral of INDOPACOM”, added Delegate Moylan.

(The information above came from a news release from the Office of Congressman James C. Moylan)

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