The Biden-Harris administration Thursday released the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2024, which includes $537 million in funding for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, according to a news release.
“The proposal would fund initiatives benefitting fellow Americans in the U.S. territories of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and support certain programs for the freely associated states: the Federated States of Micronesia , the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
“President Biden has proposed an important blueprint for our country’s future that reflects the importance of science, equity and collaboration in carrying out the Department of the Interior’s important missions,” Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Carmen G. Cantor said. “The 2024 budget request makes critical, targeted investments in the American people and in the territories that will promote greater prosperity and economic growth for decades to come. For the Insular Areas, the budget will provide for investments in infrastructure, energy resiliency and security, and promote racial justice and equity in underserved communities allowing Interior to fulfill its responsibilities in the Pacific and the Caribbean.”
The FY 2024 budget proposal for the Interior Department includes $122 million in current appropriations and $414 million in permanent funding. It also reflects proposed increases from the FY 2023 enacted level of $4 million in Capital Improvement Projects grant funding to support critical infrastructure needs in the territories, and $900,000 for the Coral Reef Initiative and Natural Resources grant program to address additional conservation needs for all Insular Areas, the release stated.
The proposed FY 2024 budget proposal for the Office of Insular Affairs is as follows:
Underscores the importance of Compacts of Free Association:
According to the statement, financial assistance provided under the Compacts of Free Association is scheduled to end after FY 2023 for the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and after FY 2024 for Palau. The Biden Administration supports renewing the funding of our Compact of Free Association relationships. Continuing decisions established in the FY 2023 budget, the 2024 budget proposal seeks $6.5 billion in economic assistance over 20 years to be provided through a mandatory appropriation at the Department of State, and language calling for continued implementation of the Compacts at the Department of the Interior.
Negotiations on the expiring provisions of the Compacts of Free Association continue, underscoring the importance of these bilateral relationships. The Administration intends to submit a legislative proposal to Congress upon completion of these negotiations later this year. The United States remains committed to its long-standing partnerships with the governments and the people of the freely associated states as we work together to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, the release stated.
Proposes support for Compact migrants:
With mandatory appropriations for Compact Impact --authorized under the 2003 Compacts of Free Association Act — also expiring after FY 2023, the proposed FY 2024 budget discontinues the smaller discretionary supplement to the mandatory funds for Compact Impact. The Bident 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. The matter requires congressional review and approval.