||Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he is thanking U.S. Senator Jim DeMint for agreeing to allow H.R. 3940, which includes minimum wage delays for American Samoa and CNMI, to move forward by Unanimous Consent (UC).
H.R. 3940 was originally introduced in the House by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and cosponsored by the Delegates to clarify the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to extend grants and other assistance to facilitate political status public education programs for the peoples of the non-self-governing territories of the United States. It was modified in the Senate to include language to delay minimum wage increases in American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
“As I explained in my press release of August 6, 2010, H.R. 3940 was modified and hot-lined in the Senate. The hot-lining process is an informal term to describe the procedure whereby the Leaders inform Senators of their respective party caucus about changes to the floor schedule and/or proposed business. Part of the hotline is also to inform Senators of any unanimous consent (UC) requests the Leaders intend to eventually make on the floor. It is a way of clearing legislation by all Senators so that it can actually move to the floor and be called up, read for a third time, and passed by UC.”
“H.R. 3940 cleared the hot-line process for the Democrats. But, the Republicans did not have time to review the bill before Congress went out of session for the August recess. When Congress returned in September, a hold was placed on H.R. 3940 by two Republican Senators. One Republican lifted his hold and the other, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint of S.C., kept his hold in place.”
“Since September 20, 2010, my office has been in direct contact with Senator DeMint’s office and by the early morning of Tuesday, September 21, 2010, Senator DeMint’s office informed my office that they’d be happy to let our minimum wage provision pass separately,” Faleomavaega said. “I did not announce this publicly because Senator DeMint’s office informed my office that the Guam provisions were a non-starter for them and, in fairness to Ms. Bordallo, I wanted to give her every opportunity to work out her provisions without bringing media attention to the issue.”
“Given the sensitivities surrounding the minimum wage issue for both Republicans and Democrats, I also did not want to jeopardize the outcome for American Samoa. In fairness to Senator DeMint, he also has every reason to seek federal minimum wage delays in South Carolina because he represents rural communities that are also struggling to survive. But I am deeply appreciative that he stood by American Samoa in our time of need and he has my personal assurances that I will stand with the people of South Carolina should he ever need my help and if I’m ever in a position to help him.”
“I also want to personally thank Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, Ranking Member. As a result of their leadership and commitment to this process, they have hopefully given the American Samoa Government the time it needs to put together a plan of action to diversify its economy.”
“Finally, I thank Governor Togiola for his attempts to help. Although Senator DeMint had already informed my office that he would let the minimum wage provisions pass separately, I know Governor Togiola had his heart in the right place by also reaching out to Senator DeMint.”
“Tomorrow, H.R. 3940 will be hot-lined again and, hopefully, this time we will clear all holds and delay the next scheduled increases by September 30, 2010. While I have mixed emotions about this because I want our workers to continue to be paid fair wages, I am thankful that our workers have received a $1.50 per hour increase since minimum wage increases were mandated in 2007. As our economy stabilizes and ASG diversifies, I am hopeful that we will revisit this issue in 2012.”
“Again, I thank all those who have been involved and I am also pleased that Congresswoman Bordallo was able to work the compromises she needed for Guam. She and Senator DeMint’s office reached their agreement this evening and Senator DeMint informed our offices accordingly. This is why we are able to now speak publicly and inform our constituencies that Senator DeMint has now released his hold and is allowing H.R. 3940, as revised, to move forward by U/C.”
“However, we still must clear the hot-line process again but I remain hopeful that this will happen before September 30, 2010,” Faleomavaega concluded.