|July 12, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA REQUESTS POSTPONEMENT OF HEARING|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that he received a letter in his D.C. office from Governor
Sunia at midnight on the morning of Saturday July 13, 2002.
“In his letter dated July 11, 2002, Governor Sunia has requested that I postpone a hearing to be held on H.R. 4838, a bill I introduced to protect the voting rights of active duty service members whose home of residence is American Samoa. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday July 17, 2002,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“As with anything, there are some differences of opinion about this matter. But in view of the Governor’s request and as a courtesy to our Fono members who have also now expressed a desire to more fully understand the substance and provisions of my bill, I have informed the Governor that I will request from Chairman Hansen and Ranking Member Nick Rahall a postponement of the hearing,” Faleomavaega said.
“I have also informed the President Pro Tem and the Speaker of my decision. In fact, when the Governor’s letter arrived by way of fax at my D.C. office at 12:08 a.m. on Saturday July 13, 2002, I drafted an immediate reply. Given that there is a seven hour time difference between American Samoa and Washington, I directed my Chief of Staff to hand-deliver a copy to the President Pro Tem and the Speaker of the Fono. My Chief of Staff informed me that he did deliver these letters to the homes of the President Pro Tem and the Speaker and both letters were received before Friday night’s flight departed.”
“In due time, I will respond accordingly to the letters submitted by the Governor and the Fono to Chairman Hansen. I will note for the record that I provided the Fono and our local leaders with a copy of my election bill on December 20, 2001. On February 27, 2002, I provided them with an amendment to the bill. On March 5, I requested a hearing before the Fono. On May 23, 2002, I provided the Governor and the Fono with a copy of my revised election bill, H.R. 4838. In each instance, I clearly stated that I was available to discuss this matter in further detail,” Faleomavaega said.
“After months of good-faith efforts on my part, I am now pleased to know that the Governor and Fono are interested in discussing this matter. Although I am not sure what the hearing schedule is for the Fono, it is my sincere hope that I may be given an opportunity to testify later this month before the Fono on H.R. 4838.”
“No matter what differences of opinion may exist among local leaders, more than 85% of those surveyed in this Territory continue to believe that our service members should be afforded the same rights and privileges as every other American serving in the U.S. Armed Services. As much as the Fono and our local leaders may want to change local laws to assist in this effort, Federal election laws can only be changed by the Congress. This means that no bill introduced in the Fono, however worthy its merits, can address the issue of Federal law pertaining to the election of American Samoa’s Representative to the Congress,” Faleomavaega said.
“I believe our people fully understand this. This is not a complicated matter. It is simply a Federal matter. H.R. 4838 in no way infringes on our local laws. H.R. 4838 does not affect the election of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor or Fono members. It simply provides a way for active duty service members to vote, which is a right our sons and daughter have fought and died for.”
“I look forward to meeting with the Fono to clarify the provisions of H.R. 4838 and I thank our people for their continued support on this matter,” Faleomavaega concluded.
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