PALIKIR, POHNPEI. May 11, 2021– In a world of increasing ‘first,’ the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia today, convened its first-ever, Virtual Opening and swearing-in of a new Congressional Body from across all Micronesia, from Kosrae State in the east to the state of Yap in the west.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted free travel in a Nation of 607 islands geographically spread over 1,003,866 sq miles, the restrictions has however opened up vast opportunities to connect and meet through technology.
For the first time ever, since the constitutional inception of the congressional body in 1979, the Congress delegation offices in the states on May 11, 2021, played primary roles in an Opening Ceremony of the Congress. Through virtual participation, each Delegation Office presented to the Nation and the world - the elected representatives of their respective states to the new 22nd Congress.
For the first time ever, the Nation witnessed Acting Chief Justice Beauleen Carl-Worswick of the FSM Supreme Court administer a virtual Oath of Office to elected members of the new Congress participating from their respective states and two from the FSM Consulate Office in Guam. A feat that Temporary Speaker Isaac V. Figir noted was in-line with the Nation’s “goal to make the ceremony and [the] Congress something our people [can join] across all Micronesia.”
After being duly sworn in, the new Congress reorganized itself and elected to maintain continuity of the Legislative Branch leadership. According to the consensus among the Members, the Leadership of the new 22nd FSM Congress is as follows:
1. Speaker: Senator Wesley W. Simina (Chuuk)
2. Vice Speaker: Senator Esmond B. Moses (Pohnpei)
3. Floor Leader: Senator Florencio Singkoro Harper (Chuuk)
The other component of the Legislative Branch leadership is the Congressional Standing Committees and its chairmanships. According to the Congress Rules of Procedure (Rule 5 - Section 8), chairmanship of each committee “shall be appointed by the Speaker, subject to appeal by the Congress.” As such, the Speaker has appointed the following chairmanships of the 22nd Congress:
1. Committee on Ways & Means: Senator Isaac V. Figir (Yap);
2. Committee on Judiciary & Governmental Operations: Senator Robson U. Romolow (Chuuk);
3. Committee on Resource and Development: Senator Dion G. Neth (Pohnpei);
4. Committee on Transportation and Communication: Senator Victor ‘Vicki’ Gouland (Chuuk);
5. Committee on Education: Senator Joseph J. Urusemal (Yap);
6. Committee on Health and Social Affairs: Senator Ferny S. Perman (Pohnpei); and
7. Committee on External Affairs: Senator Paliknoa K. Welly (Kosrae).
Members of the Standing Committees as set by the Rules of Procedure (Rule 5 – Section 7), is to also be “appointed by the Speaker, after consultation with the Members…” The composition and membership of the committees are still undergoing the consultation process.
A Special Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Issues was created by the 21st Congress through resolution with its mandate ending with the last Congress. Speaker Simina will await a decision by the new Body on the creation and mandates of a similar committee.
Following the appointment of the leadership of the new congressional Body, Day One of the 22nd FSM Congress went into recess to resume the next day, virtually.
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