|May 31, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA RESPONDS TO FONO REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ON FEDERAL FUNDING|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that he has responded to the Fono’s request for information
on how many federal dollars have been sent to American Samoa from FY 1995
“In a period of seven years, the federal government has sent more than $1 billion to American Samoa and more than $770 million of these dollars have gone directly to ASG,” the Congressman said. “About 90% of these funds were non-competitive. In other words, ASG did not have to compete against other States or Territories for these funds. Instead, ASG only had to fill out the appropriate forms to claim this federal aid.”
“Specifically, from FY 1995-2001, ASG received more than $130 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, $60 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation, $72 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and $105 million from the U.S. Department of Education. During this same period, ASG also received more than $256 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior and much of this money has been used for government operations and capital improvement projects (CIPs) as defined by the American Samoa Legislature.”
“ASG also continues to be the only State or Territorial government that is given money from the federal government for purposes of providing for local government operations. In fact, Congress gives ASG about $23 million per year for government operations and an additional $10 million for high priority or capital improvement projects. No other state or territory receives this kind of funding,” Faleomavaega said.
“Although many members of Congress have tried to take away our $23 million for government operations and $10 million for capital improvements projects, I have fought hard to keep our funding in place. Year after year, I have also let our local leaders decide how they should spend our high priority or CIP funding. However, as a Member of Congress, it is and always has been within my purview to earmark our CIP funding for high priority projects that I believe would be most beneficial to our Territory. Even so, I have not earmarked this funding and, as a matter of policy, I will continue to leave it to the discretion of our local leaders to decide how our CIP funds should be spent.”
“As a matter of record, I have forwarded the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and members of the Fono a detailed chart which specifically shows a breakdown of federal funding to American Samoa. I have also forwarded a copy of this chart to Samoa News for publication, if it so chooses,” Faleomavaega said. “I have also informed Samoa News that I have supporting documentation for every item shown in the chart.”
“Needless to say, the collection of this data has been a tremendous undertaking and I am confident that my office has collected some of the best information there is on how many federal dollars have been sent to the Territory. Again, I want to emphasize, I have provided our local leaders with a chart showing how much money each federal agency has sent to ASG from FY1995-2001. However, little data has been collected about how ASG divides and distributes this money to its local departments.”
“For example,” Faleomavaega said, “during FY1995-2001 the U.S. Department of Education sent ASG more than $105 million which means that American Samoa received more federal education aid per pupil than any other State or Territory. Nevertheless, this is not the only federal funding our local Department of Education receives. ASG also uses federal dollars sent from the U.S. Department of the Interior to fund our local Department of Education. In addition to these dollars, ASG also receives money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture which in turn is distributed to our local Department of Education. In fact, for FY1995-2001, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent ASG more than $57 million to provide for our school lunch program.”
“This means that our local Department of Education took in at least $200 million in the past seven years from only three federal agencies and possibly more depending on how ASG distributes its federal funds. The same is true of our health care system. As the chart shows, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has provided ASG with more than $72 million in the past seven years to assist us in addressing our health care needs. However, how much ASG distributes to LBJ is unclear,” the Congressman said.
“What is clear is that all federal funding to ASG is appropriated through Congress. In other words, no matter who makes announcements that certain federal agencies are giving money to American Samoa, the truth is the real work is done in Congress. Simply put, the President makes a request and Congress decides how much money each federal agency gets. For the most part, Congress also decides how much money each agency is to set aside for every State and Territory, including American Samoa. Put another way, no federal agency can distribute money to the States or Territories without authorization from Congress.”
“This is why every single year I work to make sure that our needs are known and that American Samoa is included in every appropriation bill that Congress submits to the President for purposes of funding our federal agencies. This includes every bill which deals with providing funding for the U.S. Departments of Health, Education, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture and Labor, to name a few. By working to make sure that American Samoa is included in these bills and to increase funding and add-on when possible, I am pleased to report that ASG received more than $770 million in a seven year time period.”
“I want to thank Governor Togiola, our local leaders, and the people of American Samoa for their support and prayers and efforts. I also want to thank my friends and colleagues in the House and Senate for working with us and supporting our interests. Once again, we will be taking up appropriation bills in the coming months which include additional funding for American Samoa and, at this time, I am hopeful that we will again be able to secure the necessary funds we need to make a difference for generations to come,” the Congressman concluded.
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