HONOLULU (Pacific Islands Report, Nov. 10) – The U.S. Senate has approved a renewed Compact of Free Association with the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

The unopposed Senate action came little more than a week after the "Compact II" was approved by the U.S. House, according to the Marshall Islands Embassy in Washington.

The compact, which spells out terms of $3.5 billion in aid to the two Pacific countries and continued U.S. access to military facilities for the next 20 years, was unanimously approved Nov. 6, the embassy said.

The compact is expected to return to the House next week for final approval of Senate amendments before going to President Bush for signature.

According to a statement from the RMI embassy, the senate version of the compact contains slight changes that "improve the compact package and are supported by the RMI Government."

The document will now be sent back to the house for final approval of senate amendments.

RMI President Kessai Note released a statement, praising the quick senate action.

"Their action tonight, only nine days after action by the U.S. House of Representatives, shows the strong mutual commitment of both nations to the relationship of free association," Note said "Those people who have been saying that it couldn’t be done are being proven wrong."

According to the Pacific Daily News on Guam, the Senate version of the compact contains the same provisions passed by the House last week that include including $30 million a year in "compact impact" funds reimburse Hawaii, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas for costs associated with immigration from the Marshalls and the FSM.

Guam's share of that annual reimbursement is expected to be about $14 million, the newspaper reports.

It also gives the president the authority to erase about $157 million from the government of Guam's debt to the federal government in order to offset the millions the island already has spent providing government services to those immigrants.


November 10, 2003


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