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Press Release

Westerman Returns From Historic CODEL Demonstrating U.S. Strength in the Indo-Pacific and Countering CCP Influence

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After leading a historic trip to the Indo-Pacific region, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and the bipartisan delegation have returned to the U.S. and reflected on the importance of their trip. 

"Without visiting our friends in the Indo-Pacific and seeing their needs firsthand, it's hard to truly understand the threats they face from the Chinese Communist Party. Leading this trip was an important reminder of the need to preserve our special relationships and work with our partners to protect our mutual values of democracy, freedom and self determination for decades to come. We saw firsthand the scars and heard the stories from nations once ravaged by conflict, and we will continue to ensure our military and economic strength will prevent history from repeating itself. We will not stand idly by in the face of the oppressive and malign actions of the Chinese Communist Party, and we are committed to defending our borders and allies from any regime that seeks to undermine the values of freedom and democracy we cherish." - House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

"Our Pacific family stands together with the people of Maui in their time of heartbreak and resolve. This CODEL reaffirmed our close friendship with each of the Freely Associated States on their own soil, and I appreciate Chairman Westerman’s strong leadership for a free and open Pacific. These independent nations are vital security partners in this shared mission, and much like American Samoa, many of their people proudly wear the uniforms of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces." Indo-Pacific Task Force Chair U.S. Rep. Amata Radewagen (R-American Samoa)

"Thanks to Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman for understanding how important the Pacific is to US national security. Organizing this congressional delegation to visit and meet and listen to people and leaders of the Freely Associated States is key to bringing Members of Congress up to speed on our nation’s close relationships and alliances in this region. I also want to thank my congressional colleagues who gave their valuable time to this mission. I am convinced that my colleagues now have a much fuller understanding of the vast area – from Mili Atoll in the east to Tobi Island in the west – that’s covered by these Compacts’ renewals. Now, we must translate what we have learned and observed into action by renewing our Compacts with the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Their partnerships are vital to the US national security." - Into-Pacific Task Force Co-Chair Gregorio Kilili Sablan (D-Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands)

"I was pleased to show my support for the strategic value of the Pacific partners in protecting U.S. interests in the Pacific alongside my House Natural Resources Committee colleagues. Our presence in the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States ensures the prevention of unlicensed fishing, protection of natural resources, and emergency response in the region. As a beacon for democracy and an important counter to Beijing, the U.S. cannot afford to waver on its support for our Pacific Island territories." - U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)

"We are deciding right now whether the 21st century is going to be an American century or a Communist Chinese century, and the Natural Resources Committee is ensuring that American strength leads the way. By strengthening and maintaining our friendships with the Pacific Islands, U.S. territories, and Freely Associated States, we can curtail Communist Chinese aggression around the world." - U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.)

"Our bipartisan visit to the Indo-Pacific illustrated the continued importance of strong relationships with the Freely Associated States, especially as the PRC expands its influence. Passing the Compacts of Free Association is a critical way to affirm those relationships. We also saw the importance of preserving the reefs, marine life, and environment in the Indo-Pacific. Thank you Chairman Westerman for leading this trip and thank you to all of the people of Guam, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Micronesia who taught us so much. Finally, the devastation left behind by the wildfire at Lahaina was heartbreaking.  It reminded us of the fires that burned through cities like Chicago or San Francisco more than a hundred years ago  - the fire was so hot it melted glass at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. I believe and hope we are all committed to delivering much needed federal assistance to Hawaii as we join with the island state, county and town in rebuilding and recovering." - U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.)

"U.S. support for our friends and allies in the Indo-Pacific is stronger than ever. As Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Oversight Subcommittee, I was honored and grateful to join this bipartisan Congressional Delegation to the Indo-Pacific. This visit was a powerful reminder of the critical importance of this region to our national and global security and our common commitment to democracy and the social and economic well-being of our Island communities and allies. I was honored to have the opportunity to meet and express my gratitude to our service members and veterans who have served in the region and better understand the crucial ties the region has to New Mexico’s First Congressional District. I return to the U.S. encouraged by the constructive dialogues that took place, and the potential for bipartisan cooperation to advance critical legislation in Congress to reauthorize the Compacts of Free Association currently before the Committee and to address the needs of our veterans, security, economic development, and climate resilience across the region. Together, we have reaffirmed our nation’s commitment to a secure and stable Indo-Pacific." - U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.)

"It was an honor to welcome my colleagues from the House Committee on Natural Resources to Guam to learn more about our unique needs as an island community and vital part of the United States. It was also a pleasure to visit and learn more about other island communities, including Hawaii, Palau, and the Marshall Islands, which share many of our concerns and interests. During this time of increasing tensions in the Indo-Pacific, it is crucial to continue strengthening our ties and relationships in the region." - U.S. Rep. Jim Moylan (R-Guam)

"Nearly 80 years ago, countless Americans gave their lives to rid the Pacific of their oppressors, and now Communist China seeks to undo decades of economic prosperity and democratic growth across the region. We are indebted to the civilian and military leaders at the American territories and Freely Associated States who spoke frankly with our delegation and thank them for their time and hospitality. From our field hearing in Guam, to visiting our allies in Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic the Marshall Islands, our Indo-Pacific Task Force has gained valuable insight into the challenges our citizens and allies face from growing Chinese aggression. Ensuring a safe and prosperous Pacific requires a wholistic approach, and our partners in the Pacific serve an outsized role in detecting and deterring Chinese escalatory action and gray zone tactics." - U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.)


As chairman, Westerman has prioritized strengthening America's presence in the Indo-Pacific region with the creation of the bipartisan Indo-Pacific Task Force. The committee and the task force are conducting oversight on issues facing the U.S. Pacific Territories and the Freely Associated States (FAS) of the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands located in the Indo-Pacific region. Westerman led a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) of nine members to the region to see these issues firsthand and hear from local communities to further understand the threat of the People's Republic of China under the Chinese Communist Party. 

Over the course of their trip, the delegation visited and met with leaders from the three FAS nations and discussed our ongoing commitments and partnerships with them. 

Members who joined Chairman Westerman on the CODEL:

Indo-Pacific Task Force Chair Amata Radewagen (R-American Samoa)
Indo-Pacific Task Force Co-Chair Gregorio Kilili Sablan (D-Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) 
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)
U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.)
U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.)
U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.)
U.S. Rep. Jim Moylan (R-Guam)
U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.)

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