July 23, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. ---- AMERICAN SAMOA'S FY99 BUDGET PASSES U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Congressman Faleomavaega announced that American Samoa's budget for fiscal year 1999 was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 23rd with no changes being made. The vote was 245 to 181. The legislation contains $23 million for the operations of the American Samoa Government and $10.1 million for the construction of capital improvement projects (CIP's), which is level funding with the current year. The overall bill appropriates $13.4 billion for the Department of the Interior and related agencies, which is 3% less than the current year funding.
"The House's action was as expected concerning American Samoa's funding," said Faleomavaega. "Despite an overall cut in appropriations for the Interior Department, this legislation continues the high level of funding for American Samoa's infrastructure development and maintains federal assistance for the operations of our local government," he continued.
"In other action, as part of an effort to express its concern with labor and immigration problems in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the House accepted by voice vote an amendment by Congressman George Miller to take $2 million from the CNMI CIP money and use it for the national Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program. This is in addition to the $2 million of CNMI money to be used for federal immigration and labor problems and the $5 million of CNMI money to be used to construct a prison," said Faleomavaega.
"Our attention now turns to the United States Senate. The Senate Committee on Appropriations has approved level funding for American Samoa's CIP's and reduced ASG operations funding by $230,000. The Senate Committee also restricted use of $2 million of the CIP money pending resolution of the debts owed to Hawaii hospitals and re-structuring of the off-island medical referral program," said the Congressman.
"There still may be some obstacles ahead for the appropriations bill before it is signed by President Clinton," continued the Delegate. "Although both the House and Senate have funded the National Endowment for the Arts this year, environmental riders to the bill remain a problem."
A date for consideration by the Senate has not been set, although it is hoped that the bill will be brought up before August 7th.
This was the last DOI appropriations bill that will be managed for the Democrats by Congressman Sidney R. Yates. Congressman Yates has served in the House for 48 years and was Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for 23 years. He is known for his strong support for the arts and humanities.
"Congressman Yates was one of American Samoa's strongest supporters for the more than 20 years that I have known him," said Faleomavaega, "and I remember well the day in 1990 when he spoke strongly in opposition to the Republicans' attempt to kill the funding for the Manu'atele III. We will all miss Congressman Yates, and I want to publicly thank him for his decades of service with the U.S. House of Representatives and his support of American Samoa," concluded Faleomavaega.