Compact impact relief bill re-introduced in Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU), together with Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), have re-introduced the Compact Impact Relief Act to provide additional federal resources to Guam, Hawaii, the CNMI, American Samoa, and other jurisdictions affected by migrants from the Freely Associated States.

Each year, Guam and other affected jurisdictions submit estimates for the cost of providing public service to migrants under the Compacts of Free Association between the United States and three FAS: the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau.

According to the most recent estimates, Guam remains the primary destination for Compact migrants, followed closely by Hawaii.

In 2017, Guam estimated Compact impact at $142.6 million for just fiscal year 2016 but received just $16.2 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior, which administers federal Compact aid.

To address this disparity, Bordallo’s bill makes numerous practical policy changes to alleviate costs borne by local jurisdictions, which are required by federal law to provide public services to Compact migrants and other lawful immigrants. The Compact Impact Relief Act introduced yesterday expands upon the Guam delegate’s bill from prior Congresses.

“Addressing Compact impact has always been and remains a top priority for me in Congress. This bill seeks to bring much-needed federal dollars and resources to compensate Guam for the costs of serving Compact migrants.” said Bordallo. “I continue to believe that the Compacts are an important national security and economic agreement between the U.S. and the Freely Associated States, but the federal government must do more to help the affected jurisdictions’ governments with the costs they bear to provide services to these migrants. This bill provides a holistic approach to the challenges of the Compacts. If they are to be renewed after they expire in fiscal year 2023, Congress must first increase exponentially Compact impact funding for Guam and the affected jurisdictions. I hope that Governor Calvo will join me in demanding that the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans increase mandatory Compact impact funding for GovGuam, as a requirement for any renewal of the Compacts after 2023.”

Hanabusa said, “The benefits to the United States, from the Compacts and the presence of citizens from the Freely Associated States are without question.  Hawaii is home to more than 17,000 FAS citizens and state and county governments spend about $100 million a year to provide healthcare, education and other government services. However, the federal government reimburses about $.16 for every dollar. Mahalo, [Delegate] Bordallo, for introducing this measure and thank you to our co-sponsors, [Rep.] Gabbard and [Delegate] Sablan for supporting this common sense solution to help our local governments pay for services to support these communities.”

Gabbard said, “Without adequate federal funding, Hawaii’s state and local governments have faced tremendous strain and challenge in caring for the more than 17,000 COFA migrants in Hawaii, who were promised care and services by the federal government. This legislation will relieve much of this burden by increasing federal funding and resources for Hawai‘i to deliver needed healthcare, education, social, public safety, and other services to COFA migrants who call Hawaii home.”

Sablan said, “The U.S. Pacific insular areas should not be saddled with an unfair share of our nation’s foreign policy costs. For that reason, I join with my colleagues from Guam and Hawaii to introduce the Compact Impact Relief Act. As the only Micronesian in Congress, I also want to be sure that, when our friends and neighbors from the Freely Associated States decide to make their home in one of the U.S. islands, they know they are welcome and not a financial burden. The Compact Impact Relief Act will help achieve both of these goals. I thank…Bordallo for her leadership.”

 Bordallo’s bill includes her National Community Service Improvement Act of 2015, which was originally developed at the request of Speaker Benjamin Cruz of the 34th Guam Legislature.

“I thank Speaker Cruz for his support and was pleased to incorporate into this year’s bill a section making Compact migrants on Guam eligible for federally funded national and community service program like AmeriCorps,” added Bordallo.

“AmeriCorps exists to build stronger communities. Citizens of the Freely Associated States should have the opportunity to share in this vital work just as much as everyone else. I want to thank Congresswoman Bordallo for taking action through this amendment. With her help, I pray Congress realizes that every person willing to work for it deserves a job not a jail cell,” said Cruz.

Bordallo’s bill would also double Guam’s waiver from the requirement to match federal grants. This change will help Guam seek even more federal grant money, especially for local projects where territorial matching funds are simply unavailable. Each year, Bordallo supports local entities like the University of Guam, as they apply for competitive federal grants.

“…Bordallo’s bill will help UOG and all Guam organizations secure additional federal grant money for local projects and initiatives, without the current burdensome matching requirement. UOG appreciates the [delegate’s] help in securing these federal grants, her support for our students, and her work on this important legislation for Guam,” said Dr. Robert A. Underwood, president of the University of Guam. (PR)

Press Release
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