|Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the bill
which provides the appropriations for the American Samoa Government
is still being held by Congress.
The Conference Report for the Interior Appropriations bill for
the current fiscal year was approved by the House and Senate on October
21st, but it contains several provisions which prompted a veto by President
Clinton. Negotiations on the bill have been on-going, and during
this time, the Congress has not sent the bill to the President.
“Congress and the White House are moving toward the end of
the budget negotiations, and there are five more appropriations bills which
have not been signed by the President. The provisions objected to
by the Chief Executive are all legislative provisions which were added
but are not directly related to this year’s appropriations,” said Faleomavaega.
“As part of the combined appropriations bill for the District of
Columbia and the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, Congress
did adopt a 1% across the board cut in spending, which would cut ASG’s
funding for operations and CIP’s, but
the President has said he would veto the bill when it is presented
to him,” continued the Congressman. “I do not expect ASG’s funding
to be changed when the bill is finally enacted into law.”
“The other provision of interest in the Interior appropriations
bill is the special provision for the tobacco settlement money, which will
involve negotiation of funding of about $18.6 million between ASG and the
Department of the Interior. This provision is still intact with the
appropriate language to give ASG the option to either accept or reject
the proposal of the settlement,” said Faleomavaega.
The departments and agencies which do not have approved budgets
yet are currently operating under a third continuing resolution, and a
fourth resolution is expected very soon. “The majority leadership
of the House and Senate both say they will complete their negotiations
by November 10th, but we’ll have to wait and see if they meet that deadline,”
The provisions of the Interior Appropriations bill which the President
has objected to include an authorization for unrestricted dumping of mining
wastes on non-mining land, automatic renewal of permits to graze animals
on federal land, a waiver of requirements to conduct wildlife surveys before
beginning timber sales on public land, a postponement of the implementation
of new regulations to make mining more environmentally safe, and the continued
authorization of oil companies to pay below market rates of oil removed
from federal lands.