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Press Release

Committee Considers Bipartisan Legislation to Renew COFA Agreements, Continue Commitment to FAS

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 19, 2023 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
  • IP Subcommittee

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources considered a discussion draft that would approve the recently negotiated Compacts of Free Association (COFAs) and continue America's unequivocal commitment to deterring malign Chinese influence in the region. Subcommittee Chair Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) issued the following statement in response:

"The United States has had a long history of partnership with the Freely Associated States (FAS) of the Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Federated States of Micronesia. In August, I had the privilege of joining my colleagues on a visit to these countries and have personally met with the FAS leaders and citizens. It was abundantly clear from these meetings that the people of the FAS are increasingly concerned about Chinese Communist Party influence and want a continued close partnership with the U.S. It is our responsibility to ensure that we continue and strengthen this partnership for the years to come. The House Natural Resources Committee will continue to work in a bipartisan and bicameral manner with our House and Senate colleagues, unified in showing just how important these relationships are in countering China‚Äôs malign influence and aggression in the Indo-Pacific."

Background

The U.S. has a unique and close relationship with 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. The FAS are of vital importance to the U.S. given their history, partnership and geostrategic location in the South Pacific.

Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) 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 FAS.

Chairman Westerman led a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) of nine members to the region to see firsthand and hear from local communities, to further understand the threat of the People's Republic of China under the Chinese Communist Party. The delegation visited and met with leaders from the three FAS nations and discussed the U.S. ongoing commitments and partnerships with their nations. 

At today's hearing, Members heard from Biden administration officials on the draft legislation that would approve the recently negotiated and updated COFAs with the FAS and reaffirm U.S. commitment to its allies and reliability as a partner worldwide. 

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