Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he just returned from visiting areas in South Asia hit by the recent tsunami which left over 155,000 people dead and more than 5 million homeless.
“As the Ranking Member, or top Democrat, on the International Relations Subcommittee for Asia and the Pacific, I was invited by Republican Chairman James Leach of Iowa to visit South Asia and observe first-hand the devastation caused by the recent tsunami which left over 155,000 people dead. It is estimated that more than 1.5 million children are homeless, sick or starving as a result of this tragedy and my heart goes out to the victims and their families,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“Senator Sam Brownback (R) from Kansas who serves as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs was also in Sri Lanka during the course of our visit and the Senator and I spent two hours flying over the region in a helicopter to assess the damage caused by the tsunami. Senator Jon Corzine (D) from New Jersey, Congresswoman Diane Watson (D) of California, and Congressmen Chris Smith (R) from New Jersey, Jeff Flake (R) of Arizona, Wayne Gilchrest (R) of Maryland, Frank Pallone (D) of New Jersey, Chris Shays (D) of Connecticut, Earl Blumenaur (D) of Oregon, Scott Garrett (R) of New Jersey and Mike Ferguson (R) of New Jersey were also part of the Congressional Delegation.
“While some may question why Republican and Democratic Members of Congress from Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, California, Maryland, Oregon, Arizona, American Samoa, and other parts of our nation visited South Asia, the fact is every Member has jobs or assignments in Congress because every Member represents not only their constituents but also the United States of America. In my case, I represent the people of American Samoa and I also represent the United States on behalf of American Samoa. In Congress, my assignments include service on the Resources Committee and the Committee on International Relations,” Faleomavaega said.
“As a Member of the Committee on International Relations, my job is to work with other Members on legislation to authorize U.S. aid and assistance to South Asia, for example. Members of the Senate and House Committees on Foreign and International Relations will be primarily responsible for shaping the aid package which will go to assist the areas hit by the tsunami and Chairman Henry Hyde of the House International Relations Committee has called for a hearing next week on how the U.S. is responding and providing relief.”
“After this hearing, the House and Senate will aggressively work together to provide greater assistance. I also intend to re-introduce legislation which I introduced several years ago to establish early warning systems for American Samoa, Guam and Pacific Island nations,” the Congressman said. “Had an early warning system been in place for South Asia, so many lives could have been saved. While international efforts are now underway to put an early detection system in place for South Asia, we must not forget but for the grace of God American Samoa could have also been victim to this tragedy.”
“This is why I am fully committed to re-introducing legislation in the Resources Committee to make sure an early warning system is in place for American Samoa, Guam and Pacific Island nations. This is why I am also deeply moved by the efforts of our local government to provide assistance and relief to our brothers and sisters in South Asia. I commend our local leaders and I thank the people of American Samoa for supporting relief efforts.”
“As the Ranking Member of the House International Relations Subcommittee for Asia and the Pacific, I will continue to do everything I can to assist South Asia relief efforts and I will continue to represent American Samoa not only in Congress but throughout Asia and the Pacific. Again, I commend our local leaders and I thank the people of American Samoa for their generosity and their prayers and support for those who have suffered. I also thank each of you for your continued support of me and I invite you to contact my office for any assistance you may need,” the Congressman concluded.