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Case Leads Re-Introduction Of Next Generation Framework For United States Policy In The Pacific Islands

His co-chairs of the Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus join in proposing bipartisan measure for across-government re-engagement throughout this dynamic region

(Washington, DC) -- Congressman Ed Case (D-HI), joined by colleagues including Co-Chairs of the Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA), Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Congresswoman Amua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), have re-introduced their Boosting Long-term U.S. Engagement in the Pacific, or BLUE Pacific, Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.   

The BLUE Pacific Act, first introduced in July 2020 during the 116th Congress, and re-introduced in 117th Congress, lays out a renewed vision and framework for U.S. foreign policy in the Pacific Islands over the coming generation.

Specifically, the BLUE Pacific Act pursues a comprehensive, long-term U.S. strategy in the Pacific Islands region that:

  1. Expands U.S. diplomatic and development presence in the Pacific Islands;

2.    Increases U.S. security cooperation and assistance to address regional maritime security, transnational crime and law enforcement issues, including Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing;

3.    Deepens and diversifies bilateral and multilateral trade between the U.S. and the   region and invests in trade capacity building programs for the region;

4.    Supports regional economic and social development in areas of public health, education, infrastructure, climate change resilience and adaptation, and more;

5.    Builds on existing regional institutions and frameworks, including efforts of like-minded allies and partners of the United States;

6.    Promotes shared values like press freedom and gender equality; and

7.    Strengthens people-to-people relationships and civil society. 

The updated bill reflects the Pacific Island Forum‘s 2022 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, and requires continued support for and quadrennial updates to the Pacific Partnership Strategy, released at the 2022 U.S.-Pacific Islands Summit in Washington, D.C.

“The lands and waters of the jurisdictions spread across Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia comprise an area larger than the land areas of China and Russia combined and represent a major portion of the vast Pacific Ocean and our Earth’s surface, said Congressman Ed Case. “The peoples of these islands have developed their own proud cultures and identity over millennia, and for centuries now have shared historic, cultural, economic and strategic ties with the United States. Tens of thousands of U.S. and allied servicemembers died throughout the Pacific Islands in World War Two defending the common values shared between our country and the Pacific Islands. Our presents and futures are entwined; they are being and will be determined jointly.”

“Our BLUE Pacific Act reintroduced today updates our prior versions to account for portions already enacted through other vehicles as well as the historic U.S.-Pacific Islands Summit.

“It supports the tenets of the Pacific Islands Forum’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, ensuring that our efforts are fully responsive to and synchronized with the expressed direction and needs of the Pacific Islands nations. It specifically codifies the Strategy for Pacific Partnership and requires updates to the strategy every four years. It also includes language encouraging the allocation of more staff to the Pacific Islands, and the facilitation of U.S. support for trade capacity building, environmental change mitigation, education, civil society engagement and security training.”

"The well-being and security of our Pacific Island friends and partners is inseparably linked to our own," said Congressman Ami Bera, M.D., Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific. “As a Pacific nation, the United States shares deep-rooted historical connections with Pacific Island countries built upon the mutual values of freedom and democracy. That is why I’m proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing the BLUE Pacific Act, legislation that strengthens ties with Pacific Island nations in the areas of economic development, climate resiliency, maritime security, and people-to-people bonds. Together, we can forge a more prosperous and resilient future in the Pacific."

“There has never been a more important time to strengthen our relationship with our Pacific Islands allies, a relationship built on shared commitments and values,” said Congressman Brad Sherman, HFAC Member. “That’s why, as a member of the Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus, I’m pleased to help introduce the BLUE Pacific Act which will institute a comprehensive U.S. strategy to reinforce our diplomatic and economic presence in the Pacific Islands and help us further build upon this vital partnership. I commend Co-Chair of the Pacific Islands Caucus, Congressman Case, for his leadership on this important legislation and for his steadfast commitment to the Indo-Pacific region.”

“The importance of U.S. engagement in the Pacific region and especially the Pacific Islands goes far beyond defense considerations, and the BLUE Pacific priorities are a great example,” said Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen, HFAC Member. “Diplomacy, climate resilience efforts for our beautiful ocean, encouraging the Peace Corps regionally, and recognizing development opportunities all come together. Thank you to Congressman Case for his leadership in these commitments.”

“We appreciate Congressman Case’s leadership in introducing legislation that focuses on Pacific Island countries with whom both Japan and the United States share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, respect for basic human rights and the rule of law,” said Japan Charge d'Affaires ad interim Tamaki Tsukada. “Japan will host the 10th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 10) next year, bringing together the leaders of Pacific island countries.

“We will continue to support Pacific island countries and are determined to work with them and with the United States and other regional partners to address regional and global challenges in order to achieve a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific."

Australia encourages Congressional support for a comprehensive, long-term strategy for partnering with the Pacific Islands region,” said Australian Ambassador to the US, Dr Kevin Rudd AC. “Enhanced US engagement in the Pacific region, including in diplomatic, development, economic and security domains is vital and welcome.  It strengthens alliances and partnerships in the region, helping us to do more together.”

“We congratulate Representatives Ed Case, Aumua Amata Radewagen, Ami Bera, and Brad Sherman for introducing the BLUE Pacific Act to the US House of Representatives, said Ambassador Bede Corry of New Zealand.  “As a country in and of the Pacific, New Zealand warmly welcomes the significant degree of US engagement and investment in the region.  We support the United States’ intent to address Pacific priorities, including economic recovery from COVID-19, climate change, and those outlined in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.  Taking a holistic and long-term approach alongside our partners is essential to achieve these priorities.  We believe the BLUE Pacific Act would bolster these efforts for the critical years ahead.”

“Representative Case is a leader who seeks to maintain and build upon the long-standing ties between the United States and the sovereign nation of Palau, as well as with the two other Pacific nations associated with the United States,” said Surangel Whipps, Jr., President of Palau. “Our subregion of Micronesia encompasses a vast expanse in the Pacific Ocean that spans thousands of miles, from Asia across to the Hawaiian Islands. His visionary plan, the Blue Pacific Act, promises to increase the U.S.' engagement with the other nations of the Pacific region.”

“The Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands applauds legislative efforts of the Pacific Islands Caucus co-chairs for re-introducing the BLUE Pacific Act, which demonstrates United States commitment to strengthen its engagement with the Pacific Islands countries,” said Ambassador Gerald M. Zackios, Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“The bill covers a wide range of critical issues the region is facing today: the existential threat of climate change, the integrity of our ocean resources, trade, critical infrastructure needs, education, health, IUU and maritime security, financing opportunities, and much more. We thank the co-chairs for their leadership, and we look forward to continuing our work together to ensure a safe and prosperous Pacific region.”

“Congressman Case has been a longtime friend and champion of the Federated States of Micronesia and its citizens,” said Jackson Soram, Charge' d'Affaires, a.i., Federated States of Micronesia.

We are grateful for Rep. Case’s leadership on the “Boosting Long-term U.S. Engagement in the Pacific Act” also known as the BLUE Pacific Act, which would advance the U.S’s long term comprehensive strategy and policy for the Pacific Islands and authorize new investments in capacity building in the region. Micronesia and the United States share a longstanding history of mutual values and priorities. As a Pacific Island nation and partner, we are pleased to see the reintroduction of the BLUE Pacific Act and look forward to working with Congress on the advancement of this legislation.”

 Attachments: Section-by-section summary of the bill as well as text of the measure.