US House of Representatives Gives Final Approval to Amended Compact
WASHINGTON, D.C. (FSM Information Service): December 9, 2003 - Following passage of the amended Compact of Free Association by the US Congress on November 20, the bill is now being enrolled by the Congress and will be sent to the White House for signature by President George W. Bush.
By that action, the United States would complete its approval process.
The vote in the US House of Representatives was 417-2, reflecting the wide bipartisan support given the bill throughout the Congressional approval process. The House version, identical to that passed earlier by the Senate, reflects a number of changes requested by the FSM to the original bill submitted by the Administration.
Chairman of the Asia Pacific Subcommittee of the International Relations Committee, Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa introduced the measure. He expressed his strong support for the Compact, along with Ranking Minority Member Rep. Tom Lantos of California; former Ambassador to the FSM, Rep. Diane Watson of California; Del. Madeline Bordallo of Guam; and Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, all of whom made statements of support from the floor.
The speakers echoed Del. Bordallo's statement that, "today is a historic day for the Pacific," thanked those involved in the process, and expressed hope and optimism for the next twenty years of the Compact relationship.
Concluding the discussion, Rep. Leach stated that, "Congress has put a slightly modified stamp on what was negotiated by the Executive Branch. This modified stamp is tilted toward generosity. And I think this is particularly appropriate because this is the people's body. And we are in the fortunate position of having nothing but feelings of enormous good will toward the people of the Freely Associated States...As we in the House pass this agreement, I am confident that I speak for this entire body when we suggest that we are proud of our friends in the Pacific and hope to maintain our relationship for decades and decades to come."
Certain changes made by the US Congress to the Administration's proposal will make it necessary for the parties to incorporate conforming changes to the subsidiary agreement on Fiscal Procedures. Primarily, these would be to reflect Congress' addition of funding for federal education programs, improvement of the inflation adjustment formula, addition of funds for judicial training and adjustment of the disaster assistance program. US and FSM officials have agreed to meet in Honolulu on December 9 and 10 in Honolulu to discuss these changes and other matters relating to implementation of the new arrangements. The FSM's Joint Committee on Compact Negotiations (JCN) will meet internally around the same time, also in Honolulu, to review the US-approved package and decide upon its recommendations to the FSM Government.
The approval process in the FSM could begin promptly after the signed legislation is officially received from the US. The state legislatures of at least three of the four FSM states as well as the FSM Congress will need to approve the amended Compact. It would enter into force pursuant to a joint US/FSM implementation agreement that would be concluded after FSM approval is completed.
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