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Breakthrough in H-2B authorization for civilian projects on Guam

The years-long shortage of construction and other H-2 workers may come to an end soon. Congressman Michael San Nicolas is moving an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act through Congress that will reopen the H-2B civilian labor market, jumpstarting the economy and perhaps driving down the cost of living.

The following is news from the Office of Congressman Michael San Nicolas:

As part of H.R. 6395 the "William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021," Guam has secured consideration for amendment language to authorize H-2B labor on Guam for civilian projects.

Since 2017 Guam's commercial, construction, and housing industries have suffered from the sudden loss of access to H-2B labor for civilian projects, with the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA) estimating up to $1B in cancelled or delayed private sector projects because of this problem.

Amendment #515 to the NDAA "Extends H-2B exemptions contained in section 1045 of P.L. 115-232 for skilled construction labor related to military realignment projects to civilian projects throughout Guam."

In order to secure the amendment for consideration, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), the Committee on Natural Resources (NRC), and the Committee on the Judiciary (Judiciary), all needed to authorize it.

"Today we have built consensus within all three House committees of jurisdiction to access much needed H-2B civilian project labor on Guam," Congressman San Nicolas opened. "The support was bi-partisan, with both Democrat and Republican offices rallying to include the amendment to the NDAA on behalf of Guam," Congressman San Nicolas added.

In addition to clearing HASC, NRC, and Judiciary, the amendment thereafter needed to be cleared by the Committee on Rules (Rules) as being in order.

"345 amendments proferred for the NDAA didn't survive scrutiny by Rules for consideration - Guam was one of them that did," Congressman San Nicolas continued. "This unanimous consent across three committees of jurisdiction and Rules for an amendment specific to Guam is a strong sign that this language has muster to remain in the final passage of the 2021 NDAA, and is a testament to the support Guam has throughout the Congress," Congressman San Nicolas added.

"I would like to particularly recognize the Guam Chamber of Commerce's Armed Services Committee for traveling every year to D.C. to see this through, John Thomas Brown for his direct contribution to the artful language of the proposed amendment, Juan Carlos Benitez for his direct advocacy throughout the D.C. Republican establishment, Greg Massey from Deparment of Labor for his unreserved assistance, and the policy team of the Guam congressional office for their great work," said Congressman San Nicolas.

"Additionally I would like to thank the HASC, NRC, Judiciary, and Rules committee leadership, ranking leadership, and staff leadership for all of their support, as well as specific bi-partisan Members Smith, Thornberry, Trahan, Grijalva, Rob Bishop, Haaland, Nadler, Lofgren, Jim Jordan, McGovern, Shalala, Perlmutter, Scanlon, Morelle, Raskin, and Yoho, each of whom were directly involved and critical to Guam in the final stages of this process," Congressman San Nicolas added.

"Next steps upon passage of the amendment and H.R. 6395 will be to protect the language in the Senate consideration of the overall NDAA, and we will once again engage the private sector, the Government of Guam, and the Guam Republican Party for their aid in doing so," Congressman San Nicolas concludes.

The vote on the "William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021," is scheduled for this week.

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