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MSN does it again

Guam Congressman solves nearly decade-long problem that stunted economic growth and sent home prices soaring

By Eric Rosario

Normally the electorate doesn't hear from politicians in the months after an election. Chalk it up to a vacation for some, and hubris for others. And while Congressman Michael San Nicolas certainly could have used the vacation from spending the past two years accomplishing historic feats while defending himself from home-front attacks by his own party, he and his staff have accomplished yet another undertaking.

The federal government in the second half of the Calvo administration stunted Guam's rapid economic growth at the time by freezing the use of foreign skilled labor for civilian projects. The policy brought public and private construction to a near standstill, then quickly sent the cost of construction soaring on the island.

All that is about to change, as long as the President signs one of the few pieces of legislation that actually makes it out of Congress every year - the annual National Defense Authorization Act.

After securing language in H.R. 6395 the Mac Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to extend H-2b labor authorization on Guam to civilian projects, the final language of the NDAA agreed between the House and the Senate keeps the provision intact.

"For years we have seen our construction costs go up because of our construction labor shortages, making housing more expensive and stifling our real estate, construction, and private sector industries," opened Congressman San Nicolas. "Neither H-2b exemptions for military projects, nor lawsuits by our contractors were able to meaningfully alter these challenging circumstances," Congressman San Nicolas continued. "Today, we are on track to pass the necessary language to finally remedy the construction labor shortages for the people of Guam, and bring to a close one of the most challenging federal issues affecting our development," Congressman San Nicolas added.

"I would like to thank my policy team, bi-partisan leadership in the House and Senate, on the Armed Services, Natural Resources, and Judiciary Committees, the Armed Services Committee of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, Greg Massey, Juan Carlos Benitez, and our local counterparts in the Republican Party of Guam, for all coming together to address this at a time when every opportunity to economically recover must be seized," Congressman San Nicolas concludes.

H.R. 6395 now proceeds for final adoption by the House and Senate, and signature into law by President Trump.


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