Case Joins Fellow Co-Chairs of Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus in Reintroducing Bipartisan Expanded Blue Pacific Act For Long-Term Coordinated United States Policy In The Pacific Islands Region
The Boosting Long-term U.S. Engagement in the Pacific Act, or BLUE Pacific Act, Establishes a Comprehensive, Long-term U.S. Foreign Policy in the Pacific Islands Amidst Growing International Engagement in the Region
First introduced by Case and fellow colleagues last Congress, the BLUE Pacific Act would establish a comprehensive, long-term U.S. strategy across the Pacific Islands region.
News Release from Office of Rep Ed Case, D-HI, Washington, May 4, 2021
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Congressman Ed Case (D-HI), Co-Chair and co-founder in the 116th Congress of the first-ever Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus, joined by Representatives and fellow Caucus Co-Chairs Don Young (R-AK), Ami Bera (D-CA) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), has reintroduced an expanded Boosting Long-term U.S. Engagement in the Pacific, or BLUE Pacific, Act.
First introduced by Case and fellow colleagues last Congress, the BLUE Pacific Act would establish a comprehensive, long-term U.S. strategy across the Pacific Islands region that:
- Expands U.S. diplomatic and development presence in the Pacific Islands;
- Increases U.S. security cooperation and assistance to address regional maritime security, transnational crime and law enforcement issues, including Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing;
- Deepens and diversifies bilateral and multilateral trade between the U.S. and the region and invests in trade capacity building programs for the region;
- Supports regional economic and social development in areas of public health, education, infrastructure, climate change resilience and adaptation, and more;
- Builds on existing regional institutions and frameworks, including efforts of like-minded allies and partners of the United States;
- Promotes shared values like press freedom and gender equality; and
- Strengthens people-to-people relationships and civil society.
The new BLUE Pacific Act includes numerous improvements to reflect new developments, priorities and considerations. It also includes proposed authorizations of almost $1 billion total in U.S. assistance for the Pacific Islands region over the next five fiscal years.
Case and fellow colleagues founded the bi-partisan Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus in 2019 to promote greater understanding of and engagement with the Pacific Islands both within Congress and throughout the country and region.
“Over the past decade, the Pacific Islands have boldly pursued regionalism and cooperation to address the most pressing challenges they face, including climate change, sustainable development, public health, maritime security and more, under the Blue Pacific identity and platform for collective action,” stated Case. “As a Pacific nation, the United States can and must contribute to regional efforts to address these issues. In naming and reintroducing this bill, we pay tribute to the Blue Pacific vision pioneered by Pacific Islands leaders and reaffirm our commitment to the region once again.”
“The relationship between the United States and the Pacific Island nations is one of shared values and a commitment to diplomacy,” stated Congressman Don Young, Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives. “I have been a long-time advocate for the commercial and strategic importance of the Arctic, but I am also a strong supporter of ensuring that the Pacific Islands are safe, secure, and insulated against regional aggression -- particularly in the face of growing hostility from Russia and China. I am proud to help introduce the BLUE Pacific Act with my friend, Congressman Ed Case. Our bill will foster cooperation, statesmanship, and shared security between the United States and the Pacific Island nations. I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress and with our international partners to secure a safe and prosperous world.”
“The United States is a Pacific nation, and our security and welfare are inextricably tied to those of our friends and allies in the South Pacific,” said Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. “For years, we have regrettably drifted away from this part of the world with which we share longstanding historical ties and which serves as an essential link between our nation and the Indo-Pacific. That’s why I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of this important legislation that will strengthen U.S. commitment to the Pacific Islands region. I thank Rep. Ed Case for his leadership on these issues and look forward to working with him and our colleagues as we continue to strengthen relations between the United States and the Pacific Island countries.”
“As a Co-Chair of the Pacific Islands Caucus, I am honored to join with my fellow Co-Chairs in reintroducing the BLUE Pacific Act,” stated Congressman Brad Sherman. “At this critical juncture, this bill is an important step in demonstrating our commitment to our Pacific Island allies and partners. The Indo-Pacific region is key to both our economic and national security, and the islands of the Pacific are a key yet too-often-overlooked part of that region. I hope that Congress acts quickly to take up this important legislation.”
President David Panuelo of the Federated States of Micronesia
“The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia is grateful for Congressman Case’s leadership in re-introducing this significant legislation, the BLUE Pacific Act. We appreciate the Congressman’s continued dedication to these important issues and his support of the people of Micronesia. We also appreciate Congress’s continued focus on the Pacific region, as the Pacific Island countries remain vital partners to the U.S. and our mutual national security interests.”
Ambassador Hersey Kyota of the Republic of Palau, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
“The Blue Pacific Act is one of the most important legislation for the Pacific Islands and the region. It is very timely, especially now with the ever-increasing threat of climate change, the uncertainty of COVID-19 Pandemic, increasing tension and other challenges in the region.”
“On behalf of the President and the Government of the Republic of Palau, I would like to express my appreciation to the members of the Pacific Islands Caucus co-chairs, Representatives Ed Case, Ami Bera, Brad Sherman, and my friend and Palau’s friend, Don Young.
“The United States and Pacific Islands relation had always been strong and enduring since the end of the Second World War. If there are any doubts as to the United States’ seriousness and close tie to the Pacific Islands, this legislation should remove them. Palau has always looked up to the United States for support, guidance and assistance, and we welcome the enactment of this bill into law. The legislation will help small islands, like Palau, not only to survive, but to thrive. We lack resources and expertise to tackle and resolve the challenges posed by climate change, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, transnational crime, drug and human trafficking and other challenges we face. The BLUE Pacific Act will assist us a great deal.
“The BLUE Pacific Act gives Palau and the rest of the Pacific island nations hope for a safe, accessible and free Pacific. It is in line with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy.”
Ambassador Arthur Sinodinos AO of Australia
“As a pre-eminent U.S. ally, Australia highly commends legislative efforts that boost American engagement in the Indo-Pacific. The challenges in this increasingly dynamic part of the world require cohesive, coordinated approaches by like-minded allies. We welcome the ongoing work of Congress to strengthen all the tools of government to promote an international rules-based order, including through diplomatic engagement, development projects and infrastructure investments, and enhancing resilience. Australia looks forward to continuing to work with the Pacific Islands Caucus and the rest of Congress to promote a secure, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”
Ambassador Koji Tomita of Japan
“We appreciate Congressman Case’s leadership in introducing a bill 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. Japan will host the 9th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 9) with leaders of Pacific Island countries virtually in the week of June 28th and is determined to address challenges that we face such as COVID-19 and climate change with the Pacific Island countries, as well as with the U.S. and other regional partners.”
Ambassador Gerald M. Zackios of the Republic of the Marshall Islands
“On behalf of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Pacific Islands Caucus Co-Chairs for their leadership in re-introducing this important legislation – The BLUE Pacific Act, which would ensure that the United States take a more comprehensive and meaningful approach in its engagement with Pacific Islands nations. This bill touches upon important issues the region is facing today: the integrity of our ocean resources, the existential threat of climate change, coping with natural disasters, trade, critical infrastructure needs, health care, education, the Peace Corps, leadership development, maritime security law, law enforcement, and much more. It would tremendously benefit all of us in the Pacific islands and secure the United States as the region’s premier partner.”
Ambassador Rosemary Banks of New Zealand
“Pacific Islands countries face a complex and growing array of challenges, including climate change and economic vulnerability. Those challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, from which the Pacific Islands face a long recovery. As one of the region’s top development donors, New Zealand places significant value on the good cooperation we have with the United States. The BLUE Pacific Act would further enhance this cooperation and send an important signal about the United States’ enduring commitment to the region. We commend the work of Representatives Ed Case, Ami Bera, Brad Sherman, and Don Young for introducing this critical legislation.”
Mr. Cephas Kayo, chargé d’affaires, a.i. of Papua New Guinea
“On behalf of the Government of Papua New Guinea, I welcome this significant and comprehensive initiative spearheaded by Congressmen Ed Case and his fellow members of the U.S. Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus, in setting forth the proposed U.S. BLUE Pacific Act. There is great potential and opportunity in the diverse and developing Pacific Island nations. The region however is vulnerable to issues relating to climate change, health challenges, regional security, combatting trans-national crime, including IUU fishing, among others. Papua New Guinea looks forward to actively engaging with the United States, as well as our Pacific Island neighbors, to advance the programs under the proposed U.S. BLUE Pacific Act.”
Representative Bi-khim Hsiao of Taiwan
“Taiwan applauds the Co-chairs of the Congressional Pacific Island Caucus for introducing the BLUE Pacific Act to strengthen America's engagement in the Pacific. For decades Taiwan has been an invaluable ally to Pacific Island nations such as the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu. It is encouraging to see Congress taking a leadership role in highlighting the importance of this region. Taiwan is committed to working with the U.S. and other like-minded partners to further advance the security and wellbeing of Pacific island countries and their peoples.”
For additional information on the BLUE Pacific Act, please find additional documents below: