U.S Rep Ed Case (HI-01), a member of the U.S House Appropriations Committee, has announced that the U.S House today passed, on a bipartisan vote of 339 to 85, a US$565 billion measure for the current fiscal year that prevents a partial shutdown of the federal government.

The massive house spending bill included language to adopt the renewals of the economic provisions of the Compacts of Free Association, pledging US$7.1 billion to Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands for 20 years.

The measure now goes to the Senate for further discussions.

While the COFA renewals did not include the annual reimbursements for host communities, they do include provisions of the Compact Impact Fairness Act which would provide COFA migrants with access to federal benefits to help reduce the financial impact and resources on jurisdictions when it comes to legal migration.

Guam Delegate James Moylan will be requesting a briefing to understand the true financial benefits the program would bring to Guam.

In 2022, COFA Host Communities opted to replace annual reimbursements with CIFA. Because Guam was not actively engaged in the discussions, the assumptions in various committees were that CIFA was an acceptable option for Guam.

“The COFA renewals are critical for various reasons, inclusive of the state of the nation’s defense. Despite our position on reimbursements, I supported and even voted for the measure to renew the COFA agreements in committee, and I am happy to see the renewals now advancing to the Senate,” Moylan said.
“Our team continues to work with various entities in pursuing reimbursements which are vital for our public safety entities and education department. There are certainly uphill challenges in identifying funds, which is a requirement in this House when it comes to seeking new spending since most accounts have been downsized. But we will continue to be persistent in the process,” Moylan added.

The bill, which includes six of 12 appropriations measures for the current fiscal year, contains several of Case’s priorities including US$49 million for 14 local community projects, and also approves the renegotiated Compacts of Free Association with Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands while requiring the federal government to reinstate eligibility to Compact residents for key federal programmes.

The bill for fiscal year 2024, which includes six of Congress’ normal 12 annual appropriations bills, contains billions in Case-requested assistance for Hawai‘i, including US$49 million directed to fourteen specific needs under Community Project Funding.

“Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle worked together to avoid a government shutdown and fund programmes critical to our country, our state, our communities and our families,” said Case.