Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he met with the CEOs of StarKist and Chicken of the Sea and also the Executive Director of the U.S. Tuna Foundation regarding the extension of 936 tax credits. Mr. Jeff Watters, the newly appointed President of StarKist, and Mr. John Signorino, President of Chicken of the Sea, attended the meeting held in the Congressman’s Washington DC office as did Mr. David Burney of the U.S. Tuna Foundation. A key member of Chairman Thomas’ Committee staff on Ways and Means also attended the meeting and participated in discussions.
“Once more, I want to emphasize that Chairman Thomas and Ranking Member Rangel of the House Ways and Means Committee have agreed to work with us to extend 936 tax credits and attach the substance of H.R. 629 to the first available legislative vehicle,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “Our canneries understand this and so do the people of American Samoa.”
“As it is the practice in the Congress, legislation set to expire is renewed in the year prior to expiration. In the case of 936, which is set to expire in January 2006, Congress will consider it and renew it in 2005. Congress will not renew an expiring tax code nine years, or even two years, in advance of expiration.”
“However, to make sure American Samoa was on the radar screen, I introduced a bill in 2003 and began writing and meeting with my colleagues in advance to make sure we had the support and attention we need to get this legislation passed. Some may disagree with my approach in dealing with this important issue now before the Congress, but I am confident we will get this bill through before the year is over,” Faleomavaega added.
“Also, because this issue was placed on the radar screen well in advance, Chairman Thomas and Ranking Member Rangel, the two key players responsible in the House for any and all tax legislation, are aware of our needs and supportive of our efforts. So is Senator Inouye, and Members of the Senate Finance Committee.”
“Treasury officials are also in the process of reviewing the bill and are very aware of the consequences this will have on American Samoa’s economy if the Administration does not support our legislation. Given the attention brought to bear on this issue for the past four year, there is now a very strong possibility that the Administration will support the intent of H.R. 629 in the very near future.”
“I would also like to point out that whether or not you have cosponsors has nothing to do with whether or not a bill gets passed. For example, H.R. 2010 which gave our military members the right to vote in federal elections held in American Samoa was passed by Congress and signed into law with no cosponsors. H.R. 982 which allows ASG to issue bonds was passed by Congress and signed into law with no cosponsors. H.R. 3467 which allows U.S. nationals to serve as airport security screeners was attached to a larger piece of legislation which was passed by Congress and signed into law. H.R. 1712 which redefined the boundaries for American Samoa’s National Park was also passed by Congress and signed into law with no cosponsors. The list goes on.”
“My point is there are many ways to get bills passed in Congress. Sometimes it is best to have cosponsors. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is best to have a bill attached to a larger bill. Whatever the case, I have always chosen the best route for American Samoa and, hopefully, this clarifies the point for those unfamiliar with how the legislative process works here in the U.S. Congress.”
“I thank the people of American Samoa for their support and prayers and confidence. I also thank our Governor, traditional leaders and Fono members for their support of section 936. I am very hopeful that as a result of our joint efforts section 936 will be extended and our economy will be protected for generations to come,” the Congressman concluded.