October 27, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PAGO PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA ---- MORE FROM THE FEDERAL
OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS BILL
Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the Omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress on October 21st contained additional provisions affecting American Samoa as well as the South Pacific region.
In prior years the land grant programs at the American Samoa Community College and the other territorial colleges were funded without the matching requirement applicable to state-side colleges. Earlier this year, Congress adopted a provision which would have required the land grant programs in the territories to begin matching federal funds as of this month.
"When I looked into the impact this would have on American Samoa, I found out that the matching requirement would devastate the program," said Faleomavaega. "It would have resulted in an 80% cut in funding and the termination of many of the land grant employees. Working with the other territorial delegates and Senator Inouye, we were able to delay implementation of the matching requirement for a year, and then phase in the amount of the match over a three to four year period."
"I am still not satisfied with this result, and if elected next month, I will try to get the territorial programs returned to their prior status," the Congressman noted. "The service these landgrant employees provide to the public is vital to our economies and we simply cannot afford the financial commitment necessary to operate such a program."
One of the many programs cut in the House Interior Appropriations bill was the urban and community forestry program. "Under the new formula proposed by the House, two- thirds of the funding for the program in American Samoa would have gone state-side. Again, with Senator Inouye's help, the Senate version of this provision prevailed in conference, and the program was not cut," continued Faleomavaega.
"Last year, I reported that President Clinton was supporting a new program to provide medical insurance for poor children in the territories, but that the majority in Congress did not support his proposal," the Congressman noted. "This year the President prevailed, and I am pleased to announce that American Samoa will receive approximately $380,000 to help provide medical care for our children. This is new money which has not been available before."
Foreign policy provisions in the Omnibus appropriations bill that benefit the South Pacific region include increased funding of $12.5 million for Hawaii's East-West Center and $500,000 for the South Pacific Academic Scholarship Exchanges. "I am glad that these important programs for the Pacific Island nations have been fully funded, matching the earmarks passed by the House International Relations Committee," stated Faleomavaega.
"Next year, we hope to have the East-West Center host President Clinton in a Summit meeting with Pacific Island Heads of State and Government, as urged by legislation I and Senator Inouye introduced which was adopted in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Continued funding of the South Pacific Academic Scholarship Exchanges ensures that the brightest students in the Pacific Islands shall continue to have the opportunity to attend U.S. universities," concluded the Congressman.