What the Biden administration proposed for the territories in the FY 2023 budget
On March 28, President Biden submitted the 2023 fiscal year budget to Congress. In his remarks announcing the budget, Biden stressed the importance of fiscal responsibility, safety, and security, and emphasized the investments that are necessary to build a better America. Biden touted his budget as a reflection of his administration’s core values, such as reducing the national deficit, creating new jobs, and ensuring that the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.
Included in the budget is $736 million for the US Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. The department oversees the federal administration of American Samoa, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Furthermore, the FY 2023 budget aims to advance equity, dignity, and security across the nation and its territories. Specifically, in Puerto Rico, the President’s budget intends to help eliminate Medicaid funding caps, grant the option to transition from current block grants to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and provide parity in the Supplemental Security Income Program.
The budget additionally includes funding for Pacific Island nations that have been historically aligned with the United States as allies. This funding will go to the countries that have a Compact of Free Association with the United States, including the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland stated that the resources provided to the Office of Insular Affairs by the FY 2023 budget will “help the Department make critical investments in climate resiliency while creating good-paying union jobs in the clean energy economy, ensuring Tribal communities have the resources and support they need and conserving and protecting wildlife and their habitats for future generations.” Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Keone Nakoa echoed the enthusiasm, saying “The 2023 budget request promotes racial justice and equity in underserved communities by fulfilling our insular area responsibilities in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The proposed budget also represents action to address environmental justice by prioritizing island communities that are disproportionately affected by climate change.”
President Biden’s budget will affect the territories by making crucial investments in federal bodies that will hopefully allocate funds in a way that ensures prosperity and stability for residents as the nation recovers from COVID-19 and its lasting economic damage.