Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that as a senior Member of the House Committee on International Relations, he was unanimously elected to serve as the top, Ranking Democrat on the International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. Congressman James Leach (R-Iowa) will serve as the top Republican.
“The rules of Congress require all Members to serve on committees. This is because every Member of Congress represents his State or Territory and also the United States,” Faleomavaega said. “In my case, I represent the people of American Samoa and I also represent the United States on behalf of the people of American Samoa. My committee assignments include service on the International Relations, Resources, and Small Business Committees, and their Subcommittees.”
“No matter which Committee a member serves on, all freshmen, or new Members of Congress, start at the bottom and must wait years to work their way to the top. This includes Republicans, too. In other words, it would take any newly elected Member of Congress ten to twelve years to gain seniority and rank. But thanks to the support you have shown for me in the past nine elections, you and I now have seniority in Congress including the number one Democratic position on the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.”
The International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific has broad responsibility over U.S. foreign policy with Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, Brunei, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia/French Polynesia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, North and South Korea, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, Nepal, Niue, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia (Far Eastern Policy), Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Taiwan.
“This region is critical to U.S. interests,” Faleomavaega said. “Nearly 60 percent of the world’s population lives in the Asia Pacific region, including the people of American Samoa. The world’s six largest armed forces are also situated throughout the region. China’s military force is the largest followed by the United States, Russia, India, North Korea, and South Korea. The U.S. has also fought three major wars in Asia in the last century, with enormous loss of life.”
“U.S. trade with the Asia Pacific region is also significant,” the Congressman continued. “U.S. businesses conducted more than $500 billion in trade and have invested more than $150 billion throughout the Asia Pacific region. Tuna, for example, is the third major fish commodity traded internationally and Thailand continues to be the largest exporter of canned tuna. The main tuna catching nations are also in Asia. Japan and Taiwan catch more tuna than any other nation in the world. Indonesia and South Korea are also important tuna fishing nations.”
“Given that American Samoa’s economy is more than 80% dependent, either directly or indirectly, on the tuna business, I am pleased to represent the interests of American Samoa as the Ranking Member of the House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific,” Faleomavaega said. “I am also pleased to represent the interests of our men and women serving in the military.”
“As I have said before, the threat of terrorism, nuclear build-up and military conflict in the Asia Pacific region is real. There is serious concern in the U.S. Congress about al-Qaeda cells and terrorist activities throughout the region. There is also serious concern about North Korea’s nuclear build-up.”
“We cannot know what the future holds and we do not know when or where our military men and women may be called to serve. What we do know is that these are critical times. These are critical times for the United States and critical times for American Samoa and, now more than ever, American Samoa must have a voice in the economic and military affairs of our region.”
“At this time, I want to thank the people of American Samoa. It is only through your support and prayers that I am able to represent your interests as the Ranking Member on the International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific which is responsible for reviewing the problems of foreign policy and security threats from rogue regimes that have or could gain power to create or use weapons of mass destruction. This Subcommittee also has broad responsibility for certain issues dealing with U.S. trade within the region and I am fully committed to doing everything I can through my service as Ranking Member to see that your interests are protected and represented,” the Congressman concluded.