Bordallo Testifies at Senate Hearing on Omnibus Territories Act, Palau Compact Renewal

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Washington D.C. – Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo Thursday testified in support of  a Senate bill that would renew the Compact with the Republic of Palau, and includes her latest war reparations proposal.

She spoke before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the Omnibus Territories Act of 2013.

Bordallo said “it was incomprehensible that we cannot find a reasonable offset to move the Palau Compact renewal legislation forward.” And she warned that “further inaction may undermine the strength of our alliance with Palau and that will have serious consequences for the Asia-Pacific region and our island.”

She also called attention to the negative impact of  the compact saying “The amount of Compact-Impact funding in a given fiscal year is not nearly enough to cover the expenses incurred by local governments.” However she said the Omnibuis Act includes a creative solution to that problem by allowingso-called unreimbursed Compact-Impact costs to be used as “in-kind” contributions for the purpose of apply to federal grants.”

READ the full text of her testimony to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources HERE

The Omnibus Act also includes the text of the latest version of the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act.

The Congresswoman was joined by Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas, Eileen Sobeck, as well as the Delegates from the CNMI, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

[L-R: Virgin Islands Delegate Donna Christensen, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and CNMI Delegate Kilili Sablan. The Delegates testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on S. 1268, a bill to renew the Compact with the Republic of Palau, as well as S. 1237, the Omnibus Territories Act of 2013. S. 1237 is the Senate companion bill to H.R. 2200, Territorial Omnibus Act of 2013.] 

READ the release from Congresswoman Bordallo below:

Bordallo Testifies at Senate Hearing on Omnibus Territories Act, Palau Compact Renewal
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 11, 2013 – Washington, D.C. –

Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo today testified at a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on S. 1268, a bill to renew the Compact with the Republic of Palau, as well as S. 1237, the Omnibus Territories Act of 2013. S. 1237 is the Senate companion bill to H.R. 2200, Territorial Omnibus Act of 2013, which was introduced by Congressman Sablan of the CNMI earlier this year. The Congresswoman was joined by Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas, Eileen Sobeck, as well as the Delegates from the CNMI, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

“I appreciated the opportunity to testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on legislation and policies important to the people of the U.S. territories,” said Congresswoman Bordallo.

“I also thank Chairman Ron Wyden and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski for their continued leadership in reintroducing legislation to renew the Compact with the Republic of Palau. I find it incomprehensible that we cannot find a reasonable offset to move the Palau Compact renewal legislation forward. I hope that the Obama Administration will renew their leadership role and work with Congress to find an appropriate offset for this critical legislation. Further inaction may undermine the strength of our alliance with Palau and that will have serious consequences for the Asia-Pacific region and our island.”

“However, I used this as an opportunity to highlight the impacts of Compact migrants on affected jurisdictions like Guam. The Compacts, while important to our national interest, do have negative consequences for local affected jurisdictions. The amount of Compact-Impact funding in a given fiscal year is not nearly enough to cover the expenses incurred by local governments who provided services to Compact migrants. The Omnibus Territories Act contains an important provision that would allow so-called unreimbursed Compact-Impact costs to be used as “in-kind” contributions for the purpose of apply to federal grants. This issue requires creative solutions and the Omnibus bill contains one such creative solution.”

There has been little action on issues important to the U.S. territories over the past several years and the omnibus bill and hearing are an important step forward. This bill also incorporates all provisions for Guam that were included in the House version, most notably, the text of the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act. This is an important first step in moving any legislation in the Senate and I believe Guam made a strong case for passing H.R. 44 given the offset that we use for the legislation.

I greatly appreciate the leadership of this Committee in holding a hearing on this bill and its important provisions. I look forward to working together along with other Delegates from the territories to ensure this bill becomes law.”