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No more Compact reimbursements for Guam and other host communities

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Guam and other U.S. jurisdictions that host migrants from the freely associated states will not be receiving further reimbursements for the costs incurred by the local governments for providing services to guest citizens.

The 20-year Compact impact funding expires on Sept. 30, but the Department of the Interior’s budget request for 2024 does not include a renewal of the reimbursement provisions.

“The DOI continues to push the need for allowing (Compact of Free Association) migrants who relocate to U.S. states and territories to qualify for an array of safety net programs which the migrants are not afforded today,” Guam Del. James Moylan said.

James Moylan

The Biden administration’s 2024 budget proposal only includes $537 million in funding for the DOI that will be provided directly to citizens of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands living in Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas and the U.S. Virgin Islands

“This is their plan to assist the host communities offset any drain on their financial resources,” Moylan said. “The problem is that this option does not address all the costs jurisdictions such as Guam have to endure with the increase of legal migration, especially in areas such as public safety and other social aspects.”

In 2003, the U.S. Congress allocated $30 million annually in mandatory compact funding for Guam, Hawaii, the CNMI and American Samoa to assist in defraying costs due to increased demands placed on health, educational, social, or public sector services, or infrastructure related to such services, as a result of hosting compact citizens.

In some years, Congress has provided additional discretionary funding support on top of the mandatory aid. Last year, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs released a total of $35 million in compact grants.


The amount of compact aid has been a sore spot for host jurisdictions, particularly Guam which has reported $1.2 billion in total estimated costs from 2004 to 2017.

According to the Government Accountability Office’s audit, Hawaii, Guam, and the CNMI reported estimated costs totaling $3.2 billion during the period fiscal years 2004 through 2018. In fiscal years 2004 through 2019, Hawaii, Guam, and the CNMI received a combined total of approximately $509 million in compact grants.

“The positive is that the House Natural Resources Committee, which Guam has a seat in, has the opportunity to dissect the plan submitted by the Biden administration, make necessary amendments, which we have a vote on, and then submit the final product to the floor,” Moylan said.

“Our office is committed to advocating for equitable reimbursements for host communities and will continue to ensure that our community’s voices are recognized in the process,” he added.


Moylan said Rep. Bruce Westerman, chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, has approved his request for a congressional delegation to be sent to Guam in August "to better understand firsthand the impacts of COFA."

“Our office is finalizing an amendment to the appropriations committee to request a one-year extension of the 2023 COFA reimbursements for 2024, to ensure our government’s coffers aren’t adversely impacted even further,” Moylan said. “This short-term solution, which we have a couple more approvals to secure, would allow the HNRC to take their time crafting the new 20-year COFA plan.”

The Biden administration is proposing $7 billion in 20-year economic assistance to Palau, the FSM and the Marshall Islands.

“ While we recognize the importance of the COFA agreements from a national perspective, and likewise, while we have had many productive members of COFA nations who have assisted in Guam’s progress and prosperity over the decades, it is still vital to ensure that such federal agreements provide fairness for our community and our limited resources. We will continue to fight for this equity,” Moylan said.

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