Grijalva, Congressional Delegation Representing U.S. Territories Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Place Insular Areas Advisors in Federal Agencies

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and congressional representatives for the U.S. Territories—Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-CNMI), Rep. Jim Moylan (R-Guam), Rep. Jenniffer González Colón (R-Puerto Rico), and Rep. Stacey E. Plaskett (D-USVI)—announced the introduction of H.R. 5001, the bipartisan Special Advisors for Insular Areas Act, which would establish a Special Advisor for Insular Areas in each Executive department.

Read the full text of the Special Advisors for Insular Areas Act.

“Our relationship with each of the U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States is unique and has needs that differ across the federal agencies,” said Ranking Member Grijalva. “This legislation will help ensure that each Executive department has the expertise it needs to understand those needs and make good on our responsibility to support economic and social development in the Insular Areas. I want to thank the delegates for their invaluable support on this bipartisan legislation and look forward to working with them to move it to the House floor quickly.”

“The unique circumstances of the Marianas and other Insular Areas are too easily overlooked when federal agencies set national policies. The Special Advisors for Insular Areas Act addresses that problem,” said Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-CNMI). “Creating positions within each agency specifically responsible for the Insular Areas should lead to more community input in policy formulation and better coordination and communication as policies and programs are implemented.”

“I'd like to thank my colleague, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva for introducing the Special Advisors for Insular Areas bill” said Rep. Jim Moylan (R-Guam). “I am proud to co-sponsor this piece of legislation, which ensures our island communities' unique needs are adequately addressed."

“The U.S. territories have unique challenges, one of them being the lack of voting representation in Congress. This sometimes leads to unequal treatment under federal programs,” said Rep. Jenniffer González Colón (R-Puerto Rico). “That is why I am supporting the Special Advisors for Insular Areas Act, which would create an office in each department of the federal government to oversee matters impacting the U.S. territories within their jurisdiction. This would be a good step to address the territories’ specific challenges and unique needs of our constituents.”

“There are a complexity of issues facing the Insular Areas, so I am pleased to join my colleagues in co-sponsoring this legislation to appoint Special Advisors for Insular Areas in each executive department,” said Rep. Stacey E. Plaskett (D-USVI). “My colleagues and I understand that territorial leaders have long expressed the need for department focal points to better coordinate on policy and program implementation and communication. This timely legislation will provide an avenue for the special advisors to address major policy matters in a comprehensive fashion and provide better clarity of agency roles and responsibilities and improve policy implementation.”


The U.S. government has a responsibility to foster the economic and social development of the Insular areas, including the U.S. Territories—American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—and the Freely Associated States—Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

The Executive departments of the U.S. government each have differing priorities, mandates, and operational structures. For the Insular Areas, this can mean that certain federal policies and programs are implemented and communicated differently, causing confusion and inconsistency. Establishing a Special Advisor for Insular Areas in each department will help improve the coordination, direction, and appropriateness of federal policies to better fulfill the U.S. government’s responsibilities to the Territories and FAS.

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Lindsay Gressard