Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests held a hearing on H.R. 1189, a bill he introduced to increase the waiver requirement for certain local matching requirements for grants provided to American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
“The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 1189 on November 18, 2003 and Congress first enacted a matching waiver requirement for the territories in 1980, recognizing the difficulty of territorial governments to access federal grant moneys,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“At that time, the waiver was set at $100,000 for American Samoa and CNMI. Later in 1983 and 1984, the law was amended to increase the requirement to $200,000 and simultaneously added the territories of Guam and Virgin Islands for eligibility. It has now been twenty years since this law has been revisited and the current waiver of $200,000 has proven to be inadequate to meet the needs of the insular areas.”
“Our territorial governments continue to be challenged with rising unemployment, decreased government revenues, and impediments to attracting new capital for diversification. The insular areas simply do not have the financial resources to meet the matching fund requirements required by federal law. Consequently, we are often unable to apply for the federal grants that we need to address critical issues like health, education and economic development. H.R. 1189 would alleviate these difficulties by increasing the waiver requirement to $500,000,” the Congressman said.
“H.R. 1189 would also direct the Secretary of the Interior to complete and submit to the House Committee on Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources the results of a study of the implementation of the changes to the matching requirement made through this legislation. While it is clear that more comprehensive legislation is needed to bring about sustainable economic growth and relief for the insular areas, I believe this legislation will alleviate some of the economic difficulties we have been facing.”
“At this time, I would like to thank my colleague from Guam, the Honorable Madeleine Bordallo, for co-sponsoring this important legislation. I also thank Chairman Larry Craig, Vice Chairman Conrad Burns and Ranking Member Ron Wyden of the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests for holding today’s hearing.”
“As always, I deeply appreciate the support of Senator Daniel Akaka who is a senior member of the full Committee on Energy and also a senior member of the Subcommittee that is now considering this legislation. I am hopeful that this legislation may move forward in an amended form if necessary and I am hopeful that the Senate will support our efforts despite the Department of the Interior’s desire to make the Territories pay a matching requirement to its agency and on all discretionary grants,” the Congressman concluded.