|| Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he is providing an update regarding minimum wage language to modify current law.
On May 3, 2010, Faleomavaega released a statement to the press informing the public that Chairman Miller had agreed to support modifications in minimum wage law in American Samoa.
“By June 12, 2010, we agreed to language to halt minimum wage in American Samoa in 2010 and 2011 and at that time Congressman Sablan of CNMI also decided to join us by requesting a halt for CNMI in 2011.”
“With the support of Chairman Miller, we submitted our language to the House and Senate appropriators in hopes that they would include the language in the Supplemental Appropriations bill. This was not possible but Senator Jeff Bingaman and Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, spearheaded an effort to attach our language to H.R. 934, a bill introduced by Congressman Sablan to convey certain submerged lands to CNMI.”
“H.R. 934 was previously passed by the House and Chairman Bingaman and Ranking Member Murkowski amended it in the Senate by attaching our minimum wage language. The bill was then hot-lined for unanimous consent.”
“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.”
“On Tuesday, July 27, 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid signed off on the UC request and later on the same day the Democratic hotline went out. Normally, Senators are given about 24 hours to object and if there are no objections from the Majority party then the minority party will run its hotline.”
“No Democrats objected. But, when the Republicans ran their hotline, a hold was placed by one Senator. In principle, the Senator supports our minimum wage provision and has a great love for Pacific Islanders. His only reason for the hold is so he could add a non-controversial bill that would be helpful for his people and State, which is also understandable.”
“My office reached out to the Senator’s office and explained that H.R. 934 is in all probability one of the few options left to include minimum wage language for American Samoa prior to the next scheduled increase going into effect on September 30, 2010. The Senator agreed to lift his hold on minimum wage for American Samoa and CNMI if the submerged lands request was taken out of H.R. 934. However, Congressman Sablan would not agree to take out his request to convey certain submerged lands to CNMI.”
“So, we are waiting for Congressman Sablan to change his mind. In the interim, we are working to attach our minimum wage language to some other vehicle like H.R. 3940, but this may also pose problems. Given that CNMI also needs a delay in minimum wage, I am hopeful that Congressman Sablan will consider taking up his submerged land issues at a later date for the sake of a minimum wage victory now, although I can appreciate that he wants all he can get for CNMI.”
“I want to thank Chairman Bingaman and Senator Murkowski for their leadership and for really championing our cause. I also thank Al Stayman, Professional Staff, and Isaac Edwards, Counsel, of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, for pushing our agenda forward. Without their help, we would not be this far along.”
“I also thank Senator Inouye for including language last year at my request which made our GAO report possible. Hopefully, we will be able to work out some sort of compromise but, if not, we will keep trying until we get it done,” Faleomavaega concluded.