U.S. House passes budget for Guam-Okinawa Marines transfer

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a key national defense bill Thursday that included an outlay on the contentious program of transferring Marines to Guam from Okinawa.

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014 is also expected to clear the Senate soon as the chairman of the chamber's Armed Services Committee said Monday his committee will endorse the act, which outlines a national defense budget in the year through September 2015.

The bill for the act includes an $86 million outlay for the transfer of Marines to Guam from the southern Japan prefecture.

The move came after the Senate dropped its earlier call for eliminating the budget from the bill in a concession to the House to ensure its early passage.

Senators who are influential in the plan to transfer Marines from Okinawa to Guam had been critical of the government's budget for the program, saying there were too many questions about feasibility.

Under the current relocation plan, about 9,000 of the 19,000 Marines stationed in Okinawa are to be transferred out of Japan and of those about 4,000 would be moved to Guam and the remainder to Hawaii and Australia.

Japan and the United States agreed to move the U.S. Marines from Okinawa to reduce the burden on the prefecture, which already hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan.