Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he has responded to the Senate Resolution calling for the withdrawal of H.R. 1785, legislation he introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to have three questions placed on the ballot of American Samoa’s 2008 general election.
The three questions H.R. 1785 would place on the ballot in the 2008 election are: (1) whether individuals who are born in American Samoa should become citizens of the United States; (2), whether the Senators of the American Samoa Fono should be elected by the qualified electors from the respective counties that the Senators are to represent; and (3), whether American Samoa should have its own Federal district court with limited jurisdiction.
In a May 2, 2007 letter to Senate President Lolo Moliga in response to the Senate Resolution, Faleomavaega requested that the Senate convene a hearing to provide an opportunity for an open dialogue on the issues raised by the questions included in the bill.
“As I explained in my response letter, these are questions that were brought to my attention by many residents of the territory,” Faleomavaega said. “Even some of our leaders have raised these issues and the questions have been under discussion for over fifty years now, and these issues have still not been definitively addressed.”
“In introducing this bill, it was never my intention to undermine our traditional leaders,” Faleomavaega continued. “In my view, the introduction of a bill is merely the first step in a process leading to hearings, discussions among our leaders, and public input.”
“When I introduced this legislation, I thought a hearing would be scheduled in American Samoa to discuss the merits of providing a referendum for the people’s voices to be heard. Instead, the Senate has now passed a resolution opposing the measure without notifying me and without having a hearing on the matter.”
“The issues raised by these questions are important and deserving of debate. Despite the Senate Resolution, I continue to believe that placing these questions before the people in the form of a referendum would be the best way to resolve these important issues. For these reasons, I have requested a hearing with the Senate to discuss the merits of this legislative proposal and continue the democratic process,” Faleomavaega concluded.