WASHINGTON, D.C.-Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU) addressed national security concerns yesterday at a hearing on H.R. 6040, the Continued Free Association of Palau Act of 2012, which was introduced by Rep. Donald Manzullo of Illinois.
The hearing, held by the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, included testimony from Tony Babauta, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas; Edgard D. Kagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of State's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and David Gootnick, Director of International Affairs and Trade for the Government Accountability Office.
Bordallo stressed the importance for Congress and the Obama administration to continue working together to find mutually agreeable offsets to advance this legislation. She highlighted the strength of the partnership with Palau and the potential impact to U.S. interests if Congress does not pass the Compact renewal.
The Palau Compact was delivered to Congress in January 2011 after nearly two years of negotiations with Palau.
“I urged the Obama administration to engage more with Congress to help ensure that we have a renewed agreement that addresses the requirements of the Government of Palau,” said Bordallo. “I am concerned, however, that continued delays in passing an agreement will affect our country's diplomatic relations and political capital with our allies in the region. Our country's strategic re-focus on the Asia-Pacific region must be matched with actions, not just words. The Compact renewal with Palau is about more than receiving federal financial support-it is about the safety and security of America in the Asia-Pacific region. Military base rights under this agreement are particularly important to ensuring that we have a dispersed, agile, and robust military presence in the region. I look forward to continue working with Secretary Kagan, Secretary Babuata and congressional leaders to pass the Compact with Palau in a timely manner.” (PR)