Congressional hearings on proposed COFA agreements set to begin July 17
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources is tentatively scheduled on July 17 to begin hearings on the Biden administration's legislative proposals associated with the renewed provisions of the Compacts of Free Association.
After two years of negotiation, the Biden administration has proposed $7 billion in economic packages for Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands that will spread over 20 years.
While the Department of State has signed the compacts with the FAS negotiating teams, the proposed packages require congressional approval.
Guam Delegate James Moylan has been selected to serve on the Indo-Pacific Task Force that will provide recommendations to the HCNR on the proposed COFA renewals.
The task force consists of a bi-partisan group of 14 members of the HCNR and will begin briefings on the status of the COFA negotiations later this month with officials from the Department of State Department of the Interior and Department of Defense, along with Ambassador Joseph Yun, who led the U.S. team that negotiated new treaty terms with the freely associated states.
"I thank Chairman Westerman for allowing Guam a seat on this task force, as the COFA constitutes a vital component for our community, both socially and economically, and whatever decisions are made ultimately would reflect the next 20 years," Moylan said.
"We understand that this process will be both lengthy and daunting, which is why our office is already in conversations with various committees to seek both short- and long-term solutions, to ensure COFA host communities such as Guam are not shortchanged in these federal discussions," he added.
The Biden administration did not renew the Compact impact funds for host communities, which are expiring on Sept. 30.
Moylan said the committee chairman, Rep. Bruce Westerman, has approved his request for a congressional delegate to be sent to Guam to better understand the impacts of the COFA.
The trip is tentatively scheduled for the latter part of August.