Guam – Congressional staffers say a GAO study of compact-impact funding to Guam and the CNMI may be welcome news on the islands, but it won’t yield more federal funding.
The complaints are decades old, but relief has been sparse, and never at the level that island leaders think is adequate to meet the cost of services to FAS migrants.
In 2004, Congress agreed to double total compact-impact funding to $30-million, with Guam getting $16.8 million and the CNMI just under $2 million last fiscal year.
This week, a Congressional study team is in the CNMI and Guam to study the adequacy of current assistance and review past local compact expenses.
Guam’s Madeleine Bordallo, the CNMI’s Gregorio ‘Kilili’ Sablan as well as lawmakers from Hawaii and American Samoa all asked for the study, expecting it to show what annual Interior Department studies have shown for years, the islands spend more on health and social services for FAS migrants than they receive in compact aid, probably hundreds of millions more over the last couple of decades.
But Hill staffers say that’s not the issue. Regardless of the GAO’s findings, GOP and Democrat Congressional leaders have put the brakes on new discretionary and mandatory spending.
And whether compact aid is viewed as either, it would face bi-partisan bans on pet project earmarks, or a House GOP mandatory spending freeze, according to staffers.
Republicans announced late last week they’ll be looking for $32-billion in spending cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year alone, after a stop-gap funding measure expires in March.
President Obama will submit his 2012 Budget request to Congress next week, but a bigger fight still looms over this fiscal year, and whether to raise the federal debt ceiling to pay for it.
Some republicans have threatened to oppose any increase, or use it as a bargaining chip to force greater spending concessions from the administration.