Palikir, Pohnpei, August 27th, 2023 – On Sunday August 27th, 2023, members of the US House Natural Resources Committee met with H.E. Wesley W. Simina, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) as part of their Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to the region. The delegation was led by Chairman Bruce Westerman and included committee members Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Rep. Doug Lamborn, Rep. Amata Coleman Radewagen, Rep. Tom Tiffany, Rep. Jim Moylan, Rep. Harriet Hageman and Rep. Melanie Stansbury.
President Simina welcomed the delegation to the FSM and thanked Chairman Westerman for leading the largest CODEL to the FSM in recent history. Upon exchanging pleasantries and introductions, President Simina, along with members of cabinet and the CODEL discussed an array of issues of mutual interest, with particular focus on the amended compact package and the U.S Congressional timeline as it relates to it. President Simina, emphasized how critical it is to the FSM that the US Congress pass the compact legislation by September 30th – the end of the fiscal year, and that the impacts of a cutoff of U.S. support, would be extremely detrimental for key areas such as health and education, and would be immediately felt by citizens throughout the FSM who rely on programs and services that are supported through compact funds. The President and delegation also discussed potential measures that could be implemented should such a time come to pass, such as any stopgap funding through a continuin resolution, should that be necessary.
Another point of discussion was Veterans Affairs, with President Simina noting that FSM citizens enlisting in the US armed forces are among the highest rates and growing, a reflection of the enduring bond between the FSM and the US, and further noted his efforts to fill the Office of Veterans Affairs in the FSM. Chief Negotiator Falcam elaborated on the difficulties that FSM citizens who are veterans face, particularly relating to access to healthcare. Currently, under the Foreign Medical Program, most veterans from the FAS are unable to access their healthcare and thus emphasized the FSM’s support for the inclusion of the bipartisan Care for COFA Veterans Act which would provide Veterans Affairs with the authority to provide care for veterans in the FAS.
The CODEL visit to the FSM follows after the field hearing that was held in Guam last week, where Acting Secretary Cantero of the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs represented the FSM as a key witness, alongside other high ranking officials from the Freely Associated States (FAS) and the US territories in the region, where they fielded questions from the committee relating to the strategic importance of the FAS for regional security.
Following meetings with President Simina and T.H. Speaker Moses, a luncheon was hosted at Mangrove Bay, where a sakau ceremony was held in honor of the visiting delegation, followed by remarks delivered by Speaker Moses and Chairman Westerman. Among those in attendance included members of FSM Congress, cabinet, staff of the US Embassy and members of the United States Veterans of Pohnpei Association (USVPA).