Amata Radewagen

04/09/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/09/2021 15:58

Amata Urges Biden Administration in Bipartisan Letter to Expand Access to Federal Programs in Territories

Washington, D.C. - Friday, Congresswoman Uifa'atali Amata is has urged an expansion of access to federal programs in U.S. Territories as part of a bipartisan effort in which Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and the five territorial Members of Congress wrote to Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Shalanda Young. These programs include Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Their request is in line with President Biden's recent Executive Order (EO) to OMB and agency leadership to study and address existing gaps in access to federal programs among historically underserved communities.

The full letter is available at

The authors reference recent actions taken by President Biden to address critical issues impacting the nation, including EO 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, signed January 20, 2021. This order instructs OMB to partner with the heads of federal agencies to study gaps in access to federal programs among eligible individuals and identify the best methods for removing these barriers. The authors also request that OMB address this priority in the President's FY 2022 budget and that the OMB issue a Circular that provides guidance to federal agencies for guaranteeing equal treatment to residents of U.S. Territories in federal programs, whenever discretion exists for them to do so.

In this recent photo, Chairman Grijalva speaks in a remote hearing as viewed from Congresswoman Amata's desk.

U.S. citizens and nationals residing in U.S. Territories currently experience an unequal access to benefits and services available in the States, including Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), among others. In the case of Medicaid, failure to expand access to federal funding for the territories will result in a Medicaid 'cliff' at the end of this fiscal year, putting the health of thousands of low-income Americas at risk in these jurisdictions during a pandemic.

The authors consider the expansion of these federal programs to residents of U.S. Territories essential to carrying out the mission of advancing equity among underserved communities ordered by President Biden. They write:

'While some of the problems facing residents of U.S. Territories will require congressional action, federal agencies can do a lot on their own to help ensure Americans are not discriminated against in federal programs simply because of where they live.'

In addition to Congresswoman Amata and Chairman Grijalva, the letter is signed by colleagues, Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-CNMI), Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI), Rep. Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam), and Rep. Jenniffer González-Colon (R-PR).