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Friday, January 19, 2024
HR6062: Congress Considers Amendments to American Samoa Constitution
By News Release @ 4:43 PM :: 1101 Views :: National News

Subcommittee Examines Amata’s H.R. 6062

News Release from Office of Rep. Aumua Amata, R-AS, Jan 19, 2024

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata welcomed the next step for her bill, H.R. 6062, as the Natural Resources Committee’s Subcomittee on Indian and Insular Affairs (IIA) examined her legislation with favorable testimony from expert witnesses.

Amata introduced H.R. 6062 on October 25th, to allow for American Samoa to enact constitutional changes as approved by the people without unnecessary additional procedures in Washington, a change which the Fono has called for in a Resolution. Video of Amata’s statement is available HERE and the full hearing is HERE.

“I appreciate all the excellent witnesses, with excellent testimony from Lt. Governor Talauega E.V. Ale and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular and International Affairs Keone Nakoa, and input about Swain’s Island from Delegate Su’a Alexander Jennings regarding that amendment,” said Congresswoman Amata. “This was the next step toward getting our legislation passed, and I appreciate the Committee’s work to have this good hearing, and IIA Chairwoman Harriet Hageman and Ranking Member Leger Fernandez.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary Hakoa said, “The people of American Samoa have spoken, and we encourage this Committee to take swift action to approve H.R. 6062 and Congress to pass the legislation. We also acknowledge the honorable representative from American Samoa in her consistent efforts to protect, enhance, and advance American Samoa’s political development.”

Lt. Gov. Talauega, representing Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga, expressed the American Samoa Government’s support: “I am reminded today of an ancient Samoan proverbial expression: ‘Ia ō gatasi le futia ma le umele,’ meaning ‘May both sides be unified in equal strength.’ H.R. 6062 represents the inestimable value we place on our unity with the United States but also the equal importance we place on our Constitution and the protection of the Samoan way of life. For American Samoa, self-determination is an ongoing journey. Congress has of course been an essential part of that journey. We appreciate that and will continue to call on Congress to request what we need to keep making progress. What we need from Congress now is the same flexibility that Congress allows to all of the other territories to shape their own future under local law.”

Amata also entered to the Congressional Record a letter from the Senate President and Speaker of the House of the American Samoan Legislature, in support of H.R. 6062 and in which they outline the long history our territory has had with the United States and the Secretary of Interior, and their desire to continue that relationship in a way that respects local self-determination.

In her statement, Congresswoman Amata said, “American Samoa has over 70 years of experience being able to work out problems and sustain a productive relationship with the Office of the Secretary. And the people of American Samoa know where we would go if the Secretary abused power.  We would go to Congress and ask for intervention to help us protect our way of life if we ever needed.”

She continued, “And now here we are in 2024, five proposed amendments ratified by the people are pending with the Secretary, who has paused in taking action to give Congress a chance to avoid setting any unwanted precedents and to consider restoring the greater degree of self-determination we had before the 1983 bill. Thus, H.R. 6062, is a long overdue one-sentence technical amendment correcting the 1983 territorial spending act.  But this time we are in regular order, and unlike 1983 the people of American Samoa are represented and have a seat at the table.”

###

LINK: H.R.6062 - To restore the ability of the people of American Samoa to approve amendments to the territorial constitution

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