CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 4493 on Tuesday, May 18, 2010, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 4493 was introduced on May 5, 2010, by Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark-up and reported the bill, by voice vote, on May 5, 2010.
H.R. 4493 would require the Secretary of the Interior to treat the government of Guam as a cooperating agency in the implementation of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, which was established by Presidential Proclamation on January 6, 2009. Under the legislation, Guam would share the same stewardship and management responsibilities over the national monument as the Northern Mariana Islands. Among other things, Guam would share responsibility for developing management plans, identifying culturally significant persons, assessing resource exploration and research, tourism, and appointing members of the Mariana Monument Advisory Council.
In addition, the legislation would authorize the Secretary to expand the existing services at the Guam National Wildlife Refuge and initiate a program to survey natural resources at the Mariana Trench Monument and facilitate natural resource exploration. The bill would authorize the Secretary to construct or lease a facility for a "multipurpose center" in Guam to carry out these purposes, subject to the availability of appropriations. In addition, the bill would allow the Secretary to accept donations of funds and use property from private persons and entities or from public entities for the purposes of planning, construction or leasing, and operation of a multipurpose center.
On January 12, 2009, President Bush established the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument by Presidential Proclamation 8335. Under the proclamation, much of the responsibility for managing the Mariana Trench Monument was left to the determination of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The proclamation stated that the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as a cooperating agency with the Department of Interior. Northern Mariana has seats on the advisory committee and participates in planning and resource management for the Monument. The underlying bill would add the territory of Guam as another participating government in management of the Mariana Trench Monument.
There are 100 different units of the National Monument System, making up more than 1.8 million acres of federal land around the country. While National Monument sites are sometimes administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the vast majority are managed by the National Park Service (NPS). According to the Congressional Budget Office, it's expected that the Department of Interior will spend funds to develop a management plan and construct proper facilities. According to CRS, NPS faces an estimated $9 billion maintenance backlog on the property and facilities the agency currently controls and is unable to keep up.
A CBO score for H.R. 4493 was not yet available as of press time.