BY MAUREEN N. MARATITA
James C. Moylan, Guam’s delegate to Congress; is a freshman in the 118th Congress. But that hasn’t stopped him moving his agenda forward or forging essential relationships.
Moylan maintains contact with Rear Adm. Benjamin R. Nicholson, commander of Joint Region Marianas, he said.
“I got an initial briefing and since then I try to meet with him every time I come out.” He makes it a point to speak with Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero and met with the governor when she was in Washington, D.C. Moylan said it’s essential that it’s understood in Washington that the delegate and the executive branch are united in certain things to move the island forward.
“That’s why my door is always open to the governor and this week I had meetings at her office too,” he said.
Moylan serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee, as well as on four Subcommittees, which are part of HASC and HNRC. Those include the Subcommittee on Readiness which has jurisdiction over military construction, readiness, military installations, base realignments, training, logistics, and maintenance; the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, which has jurisdiction over military personnel, Reserve Component integration and employment, dependent schools, Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, commissaries, cemeteries under the jurisdiction of the DOD, and the civilian and contract workforce; the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs; and the Subcommittee on Federal Lands.
A discussion with Guam’s admiral on the H-2B issue also bore fruit. Moylan said the pair discussed the visa extension. “Nicholson has put that up the ladder,” he said. “In order for that to happen we did it to happen at least [during] this period, so contractors will be more willing bring in a bid …,” he said. Additionally, he said Nicholson discussed dredging Guam’s harbor, “so military ships can have more places to park,” Moylan said. That would have benefits for the military if larger ships can come into port. Similarly that would benefit the island, the delegate said.
On March 29, during the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the 2024 Department of Defense budget, he questioned Lloyd J. Austin III, the U.S. Secretary of Defense; and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In response to his questions, Moylan was told in regard to the H-2B visa extension due to end on Dec. 31, 2024, that Austin would support extending the deadline to meet the timelines projected for the completion of the construction of Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, which is in 2029.
“I recently introduced HR 1760, which intends to do just this and its gaining traction among several members in [the House Armed Services Committee], and I am glad that the administration feels the same,” Moylan said in a March 30 release. “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.”
Moylan told the Journal that briefings that he attends related to the committees he sits on offer valuable background. “The latest briefing was from the Space Force,” he said.
That led to a question to Austin on a contract for an independent assessment of the Guam Air Missile Defense System, which was required by statute through the 2023 National Defense Act, Austin said a contract will be issued by the end of March.
“This is a critical assessment and the timeline to award the contract ended at the start of the month,” Moylan said in the release. “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. … We will continue to monitor things. To add to this, yesterday our office submitted an amendment to the 2024 [National Defense Authorization Act] budget bill to actually increase the funding for the Guam Defense by an additional $147 million, based on a recommendation provided by the Admiral [John Aquilino] of INDOPACOM,” Moylan said.
Guam’s role in the nation’s defense has already drawn attention in Congress, with the first of what he anticipates will be additional Congressional delegations.
In February, a CODEL led by Rep. John Carter, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Military Construction, visited Guam. The CODEL visited Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands and Hawaii, according to Journal files.
The arrival of a CODEL so early in his term is unusual, he said. “It’s unheard of — especially from the appropriations committee.
In general, he said of the Congressional representatives, “A lot of folks are understanding the Pacific for the first time — there are 400 of them.” However, he says there are some commonalities with his fellow freshmen. “Many of them are prior service,” Moylan said, to include those who served in the U.S. Navy. “They understand the global effect of supporting the nation.”
As he acclimatizes to the potential of his role, he said, “Now that we’ve learned what we can do, we can move forward on that. The interest of the United States is into the Indo-PACOM region from our [Compact of Free Association] nations to our individual governments. That situation will help the island also, he said. “Our voices can leverage Guam because of the interest in protecting our nation’s freedom from the Chinese Communist Party.”
Moylan is also looking at increased funding, he said, where his role in committee will help. “The COFA negotiations come to the Committee of Natural Resources, which I’m a part of under Insular Affairs,” he said.
“The U.S. is really in favor of listening to our sister nations — but what about the citizens of the United States in the territories and states that they are migrating too? Why are we stuck at $30 million — since as far back as we remember?” That issue was raised with President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a March 13 letter.
“We’re glad to help our fellow nations, because they’re also providing assistance against the Communist Chinese Party but we use this [money] for education, the hospital and public protection,” Moylan said. “If we can’t come to agreement, we can use a percentage of inflation. We need this support.”
One issue that he conceded he may not be able to move forward is getting Guam a voting delegate. “Our voice is needed; it should be a voting delegate,” he said. I can vote symbolically – usually [the non-voting delegates] can make amendments on a bill. We can voice our concern to our colleagues.”
Moylan also deals with constituent issues through his Guam office.
Both federal and local agencies that have relationships with offices in Hawaii, rather than directly with those offices have approached the delegate about the inefficiencies and delays that occur in those relationships.
“There are several other departments and non-profit groups on the island that are feeling the same situation while dealing with Hawaii,” he said. “It seems that we’re grown up enough – it’s been 78 years since our liberation — we should be able to handle this on our own.”
That issue can be raised in Washington, he said.
“How we leverage it is just like what we’re doing right now. The United States has never spent so much attention in Guam since World War II till now. That leverage is going to give us the opportunity to do these types of things.”
While he was in Guam in March, Moylan also met with various U.S. veteran groups.
“We have a casework file on the veterans — the majority for their issues on health,” he said. One of the issues is the clinic at Naval Hospital.
Because of what Naval Hospital Guam calls “the sharing agreement with our local Veteran’s Clinic,” the hospital says on its website that it has “one of the highest acuity emergency rooms and intensive care units in the Navy.”
The website also said, “USNH Guam is the only military hospital to accept direct trauma from the community,” although typically emergency cases are taken to the nearest hospital of three on the island, to include Naval Hospital Guam.
Moylan said he met with the commander of the clinic. “We’re getting the next meeting scheduled up with him and other members of the veterans groups too.” As to whether veterans are registered with the Guam Veteran Affairs Office or not, he said. “They may or may not be registered — but with the groups they’re registered. Whatever the total numbers are, I think it’s important that Guam be on its own and we don’t have to go through Hawaii for all these issues.” mbj