Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he is responding to Senator Salanoa’s statement criticizing his work in Congress, published by Samoa News on September 26, 2008.
“As a matter of practice and out of respect for my dear friend, Senator Salanoa, I would customarily respond directly to him regarding the opinions he has expressed on behalf of my opponent, Mrs. Aumua Amata Radewagen,” Faleomavaega said.
“However, since Senator Salanoa is not a candidate and is not running for Congress and, also, since he submitted his statement to Samoa News in his official capacity as Chairman of the Friends of Amata campaign, it is clear he is expressing the views of Mrs. Aumua Amata Radewagen and, therefore, I will respond directly to her criticisms.”
“First, Mrs. Aumua Amata Radewagen states I flew to American Samoa at a time when Senator McCain suspended his campaign to address the meltdown of our financial markets brought on, in large part, by corporate fat cats which the Republican party has a history of supporting. In fact, Senator McCain didn’t suspend his campaign to save Wall Street. He suspended his campaign because he’s down in the polls and needs a political ploy to convince America to vote for him. As a matter of record, Senator McCain and his Republican party have opposed government regulation of Wall Street for years. Had the Republicans supported more oversight and regulation, America may not be in the financial mess we’re now in. While the Democratically-controlled Congress and President Bush are prepared to bail out America and have reached an agreement, the conservative Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are opposing our bi-partisan efforts.”
“Regarding the timeline of the bail out, President Bush sent his bill to Congress last weekend on September 20 when the House was not in session and then flew to New York on Tuesday September 23 where he addressed the United Nations General Assembly.”
“While President Bush was en route to New York, I had already flown in and out of American Samoa where I made a one-day visit to Pago Pago on Monday of this week to honor and pay tribute to the late Paramount Chief A.U. Fuimaono who was American Samoa’s first elected Representative to Washington, and was like a father to me. I was blessed to serve as Paramount Chief Fuimaono’s Administrative Assistant, and I am indebted to him for everything he taught me. And, despite the fact that Mrs. Radewagen has criticized me for paying my respects to him and his family, I did what I thought was the right thing to do.”
“Before leaving Pago Pago on Monday night, September 22, I explained to Chief Fuimaono’s children and family that I would be unable to attend funeral services as I had to return to Washington to conclude the nation’s and American Samoa’s business, which is what I have been doing.”
“On Friday, September 26, 2008, the House voted on our 30A tax credits, and I was on the House floor in support of this bill. On September 23, the Senate passed our extension but the House offered up another version of the bill, H.R. 7060, and now the Senate must vote again, and hopefully both chambers will wrap up their differences before Congress comes to a close.”
“On Friday, September 26 or Saturday, September 27, the House may also take up the stimulus package, which also includes funding for the territories, including American Samoa, which we have worked on for the past several months.”
“Therefore, regardless of Mrs. Radewagen’s falsehoods and lack of understanding about the political process in Washington, I am well aware of matters pertaining to our Territory, and I am moving our people’s legislation and agenda forward. As a matter of record, I was also present at every critical turn for minimum wage. Like every other Member of Congress, who often has to be at two places at once, I also have cell phones, blackberries, and even video conferencing. So, for Mrs. Radewagen to accuse me of not being present is untrue.”
“I would, however, question her presence in our Territory as she only seems to come around to American Samoa during campaign season and, afterwards, heads back to her home in Virginia where she rests comfortably until it is time to campaign again having running for the office of Delegate now for her 7th time in the past 14 years.”
“And speaking of Mrs. Radewagen’s criticisms about my Congressional duties which at times require me to travel outside of the United States, I believe her criticisms are both naïve and hypocritical. It should be noted that Members of Congress represent not only their districts, but also the United States of America and, depending on their committee assignments, some Members are required to travel outside of the United States.”
“As a Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment, my Congressional duties require me to travel on assignment to different parts of the world to represent the United States on issues pertaining to our national security, trade, climate change, nuclear nonproliferation, and other important matters. My Subcommittee travel is authorized and paid for by the Committee and the U.S. Department of State, and no funds set aside for American Samoa are ever used for my subcommittee duties, or travel, in my capacity as Chairman.”
“At all times, whether at home, abroad, or in Washington, DC, I proudly represent the people of American Samoa wherever I am, and I will continue to perform the duties that are expected of me, and which the people elected me to do.”
“Finally, given that Mrs. Radewagen’s father was one of the most traveled Governors in the history of American Samoa and was a strong advocate of promoting regional cooperation between American Samoa and Pacific Island nations, I am somewhat surprised that Mrs. Radewagen would not at least honor the legacy of her father who felt it was important for American Samoa to be recognized at home and abroad, both as a viable member of the Asia Pacific community, and as a loyal and steadfast territory of the United States of America,” Faleomavaega concluded.