Congressman Faleomavaega announced that the House unanimously passed H.R. 1189, a bill he introduced to assist the territories by waiving matching requirements at a certain level for federal grant programs.
“Last night, by voice vote, the House agreed to pass this important legislation and I am pleased that I was able to manage this bill on the House floor,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “First, I would like to thank Chairman Richard Pombo and Ranking Member Nick Rahall of the Resources Committee for their continued support regarding the needs of the Pacific Island territories and for their help in bringing H.R. 1189 to the Floor.”
“H.R. 1189 is a bill that would increase the waiver requirement for certain local matching requirements for grants provided to American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI),” the Congressman explained. “Congress first enacted a matching waiver requirement for the territories in 1980, recognizing the difficulty of territorial governments to access federal grant moneys.”
“At that time, the waiver was set at $100,000 for American Samoa and the 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.”
“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,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “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, as well as the Honorable Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands, and Anibal Acevedo-Vila of Puerto Rico for expressing their support and co-sponsoring this important legislation. I also truly appreciate Chairman Pombo’s unfailing support of the insular areas and Ranking Member Rahall for recognizing the importance of this issue. I also appreciate the support I received from all of my Democratic and Republican friends in the House and I am hopeful that our friends will also support our efforts as this bill now moves to the Senate for consideration,” the Congressman concluded.