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Press Release

House Passes Historic Legislation Defending Indo-Pacific Allies

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Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan spending package that included House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman’s (R-Ark.) Compact of Free Association Amendments Act. This legislation will maintain America’s commitment to the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, known collectively as the Freely Associated States (FAS).

"This marks a historic step in our work to support our allies in the Indo-Pacific region and counter the increasing aggression of the People's Republic of China under the Chinese Communist Party. I and many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have seen firsthand the imminent threat the CCP poses to our friends in the Pacific, as they use coercion and malicious financial threats to undermine democracy in the region. We won’t stand idly by and watch this happen. Today, the House of Representatives has dealt a blow to the CCP’s malign influence and stood strong with our allies. The Compact of Free Association Amendments Act is legislation I spearheaded during my time as chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over the Compacts of Free Association, and I’d like to particularly thank Speaker Johnson for prioritizing this important agreement. I look forward to this legislation being signed into law." – House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

"I welcome the passage of the Compacts of Free Association in today’s appropriations package. Our longstanding history in the Pacific Islands demands that we support these countries as they face immense pressure and aggression from the Chinese Communist Party. I look forward to working with my counterparts in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau, to strengthen our economic and defense posture in the Western Pacific." – House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas)


Westerman introduced the Compact of Free Association Amendments Act following the work of the bipartisan Indo-Pacific Task Force. The task force held numerous hearings, and Westerman led a historic bipartisan congressional delegation (CODEL) to the Indo-Pacific in August 2023. The legislation approves and incorporates by reference agreements signed between the U.S. and the three FAS – the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia – for the new Compact of Free Association (COFA) period, from Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 through FY 2043.

The People's Republic of China under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has attempted to gain influence in the region, not only through economic aid and infrastructure development but also by attacking democratic institutions, civil society and lawful private free enterprise. The PRC has leveraged its resources in efforts to shape political outcomes and perceptions of the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific and to retaliate against any Pacific nation that chooses not to align with the PRC. 

The COFA agreements include granting the United States sole and unfettered military access to the lands, waters and airspace of the FAS while providing economic assistance in grants and contributions to accountable trust funds, access to certain U.S. federal programs for FAS citizens and the ability for FAS citizens to live and work in the U.S. The Compact of Free Association Amendments Act would also strengthen oversight and accountability measures for U.S. implementation and management of the COFA economic provisions.