U.S. Department of the Interior Supports Solution for Compact Impact

Last edited 05/05/2023
Contact Information

Contact: Tanya_Joshua@ios.doi.gov

(202) 355-3023

In 2003, Congress enacted the Compacts of Free Association Amendments Act, establishing a 20-year program to address the financial impact of Compact migrants on four affected jurisdictions: American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Hawai’i. Under that program, Congress provided $30 million per year in mandatory appropriations to offset additional costs attributable to Compact migrants. 

Beginning in 2012, Congress appropriated additional discretionary funds ranging from $3-$6 million per year to augment the $30 million in mandatory Compact Impact funds. According to statutory direction, the Department of the Interior distributed this funding among the four affected jurisdictions based on the ratio of Compact migrants living in the jurisdiction. 

The legal authorization underlying mandatory and discretionary Compact Impact appropriations expires after 2023. Given the expiration of the underlying mandatory appropriation, the Department has not requested a continuation of the small discretionary supplement to the mandatory funds for Compact Impact.

Since 2003, the distribution of Compact migrants has shifted. As noted in the 2020 GAO Report: Compacts of Free Association – Populations in U.S. Areas Have Grown, with Varying Reported Effects, more than 94,000 Compact migrants from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are estimated to live and work in the United States and its territories. More than half of these populations now reside in the continental United States and an estimated 43% are U.S. citizens.

As the United States and the Freely Associated States enter into the next 20 years of free association and considering the current demographics, it is an appropriate time to evaluate and address the impact that Compact migrants have on both the four affected jurisdictions as well as other states and communities in the continental United States. In that regard, the Biden-Harris administration supports allowing Compact migrants to become eligible for key Federal social safety net programs while residing in the United States, as a long-term solution to the financial impacts of Compact migrants on state and territorial governments.

Ultimately, any extension of Compact impact funding or extension of Federal benefits to Compact migrants residing in the United States and its territories requires congressional action. The Department of the Interior will continue working with Congress on these matters, including the proposed Compact Impact Fairness Act. 

The Assistant Secretary of Insular and International Affairs and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. OIA also administers a discretionary Technical Assistance Program for all the Insular Areas. Find information about OIA and its work on www.doi.gov/oia, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


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