Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the House passed H.R. 1591, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill by a vote of 218 to 212 to 1 which includes a minimum wage provision to extend minimum wage rates to American Samoa.
“As I stated last week, Representative Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, offered an amendment to the Emergency Supplemental bill (now known as the Iraq supplemental bill) when it was marked up by the House Committee on Appropriations. The Kirk amendment would extend minimum wage rates to American Samoa.”
“However, given that Mr. Kirk knows nothing about American Samoa and did not have the courtesy to contact my office to gather information about our people or economy, key Members have assured me that the minimum wage issue for American Samoa and CNMI will be worked out during conference,” Faleomavaega said.
“Congressman David Obey, who is Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has also assured me of his support. Chairman Obey also said that he accepted the Kirk amendment during the mark-up only because he wanted to get a bill passed out of the Appropriations Committee and to the floor without any disagreement between Republicans and Democrats, and the same holds true for what happened on the House floor today.”
“Now that the bill will move to conference, the Democratically-controlled Congress can now determine what is best for American Samoa and CNMI without further concern or influence from the Republicans who have made this a political issue rather than a sincere debate. The tuna industry, including StarKist and Chicken of the Sea, are aware of our efforts to strengthen Special Industry Committees for American Samoa and CNMI and our supportive of this approach.”
“We continue to be united in our position and we have also informed the House leadership that the Administration supports excluding American Samoa from the federal minimum wage. Despite the obstacles before us, I am hopeful that this will be a way to get this issue corrected for both CNMI and American Samoa,” Faleomavaega concluded.