Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Continues Fight to Restore FAS Migrant Access to Vital Programs

February 26, 2020
Press Release
Washington, DC—Last week, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP-at large) introduced H.R. 5950, the FAS School Meals Improvement Act, which would restore eligibility for federal school meal programs to Freely Associated States (FAS) migrants. The eligibility had been erroneously eliminated through the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.
 
“Nearly 40,000 FAS migrants reside across the United States. Due to an error in the text of a 1996 law, access promised to the FAS migrants by the federal government to vital programs like Medicaid, school, and child nutrition programs were stripped. This left states like Hawai‘i, home to over 16,000 FAS migrants, forced to try to cover the gap of this unfunded Federal mandate,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “The Federal Government should live up to the spirit of the Compact of Free Association and fix this mistake.”
 
Background: The FAS School Meals Improvement Act restores access to school lunch programs for migrants from Freely Associated States (FAS) — Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands — by expanding eligibility under National School Lunch Act and Child Nutrition Act. According to the 2018 Estimates of Compact of Free Association (COFA) Migrants, released by the Census Bureau in April 2019, there are over 16,000 FAS migrants residing in Hawai‘i with nearly 40,000 residing across the United States and U.S. Territories.
 
Last year, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced H.R. 4821, the Covering Our FAS Allies Act (COFA Act) along with Rep. Tony Cardenas (CA-29). This bill would reestablish Medicaid eligibility for FAS migrants living in the U.S. Today’s bill, along with H.R.4821, are an effort to fix an error made in the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in which an oversight in the bill text excluded FAS migrant eligibility from many federal programs. 
 
The bill would restore FAS migrant access to programs under the National School Lunch Act and Child Nutrition Act that will be including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program.
 
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for 16 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
 
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