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Hirono joins US Senators in urging renewal of Compacts of Free Association

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Flags of western Pacific island countries included in the Compacts of Free Association with the United States: (from left) the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Republic of Palau. Screen grab from US Department of Interior website

US Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaiʻi joined more than two dozen senators, including fellow Hawaiʻi Sen. Brian Schatz, in calling for the renewal of the Compacts of Free Association with the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau.

According to an announcement from Hirono, the legislation will protect US interests in the west Pacific for the next 20 years and help prevent China from expanding its influence in the region.

US Sen. Mazie K. Hirono. (File photo)

Hirono, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, joined 25 of her Senate colleagues in a bipartisan letter urging Senate leadership to support legislation to renew the Compacts of Free Association.


“Our COFA partnerships are critical to U.S. national security,” the lawmakers wrote. “Failure to pass the renegotiated Compacts as soon as possible imperils our relationships with the Freely Associated States and the entire Pacific Island region, who view the COFA as a barometer of the US commitment to the region.”

The COFA legislation is the result of yearlong bipartisan negotiations across eight primary committees of jurisdiction in the US House and Senate. The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME). It also highlighted the importance of the United States’ relationships with its partners in the Freely Associated States and emphasized that the US must maintain strategic control in the Pacific.

The legislation would also reinstate federal benefits for COFA citizens. Earlier this month, Hirono spoke on the Senate floor calling for the text of the COFA legislation to be added to the national security supplemental bill being considered by the US Senate. She introduced a bipartisan amendment to the bill that would have added the text of the COFA agreements.


In August, Hirono hosted a roundtable with COFA community leaders and advocates in Hawaiʻi to discuss the challenges faced by COFA citizens and ways forward to ensure that the COFA community receives the support they need to thrive in the United States. Last March, Hirono also reintroduced the Compact Impact Fairness Act to restore access to a range of federal benefits for COFA citizens who reside in the US. The bill builds upon Senator Hirono’s legislation to restore Medicaid eligibility for COFA citizens, which was signed into law in 2020.


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