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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe Online, Sept. 1) - The United
States Congress has a short window to reauthorize the Compact of Free
Association with the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia.

The House and Senate are to reconvene after Labor Day following
a month long recess. The current extended Compact provisions end on September

The House Full Committee on Resources is scheduled to meet on
Thursday, September 4, for a Markup on House Joint Resolution 63, to approve the
"Compact of Free Association Amendments Act of 2003," and the
provisions to extend the Compact for another twenty years.

On July 23, the Full Committee on International Relations
reported the legislation favorably to the House with some technical amendments.
Rep. James Leach, who as Chairman, led hearings on the Compact in the Asia and
Pacific subcommittee, said the amended Compacts should be generally supportable
by Congress, but he hopes that issues such as the termination of FEMA and future
educational assistance would be clarified by the time the legislation is
considered by the full House.

The Senate version, S.J. 16, was introduced by Senators
Domenici, Bingaman, Graig, and Akaka, colleagues from the Committee on Energy
and Natural Resources on July 14. The Committee, led by Chairman Pete Domenici,
heard testimony regarding the amended proposals.

During the Senate's first hearing on the Compact
reauthorization, Chairman Domenici urged the House and Senate to act swiftly to
amend the Compact before it expires. The Energy Committee's markup is expected
not long after Congress resumes.

On August 1, Senator Daniel Akaka, in a speech before the
Senate, said Congress had a big challenge ahead, "to keep the commitment we
made in 1986." Akaka said that he will be introducing a number of
amendments to address the sufficiency of the negotiated provisions in assisting
the FSM and RMI with economic development along with proper tools of education
and health care. Restoration of public benefits to those FAS citizens who have
migrated to the United States and Territories is a priority, he said.

September 3, 2003

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