Amata highlights legislation in remarks to Coral Reef Task Force
Pago Pago AMERICAN SAMOA — Congresswoman Aumua Amata last week welcomed the opportunity to speak to the 40th meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, including highlighting bipartisan federal legislation promoting the long-term health of our coral reefs.
As part of her remarks, Congresswoman Amata updated the group on the bipartisan Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act (H.R. 5996), which she supports as an original cosponsor to add federal funding for coral reef preservation efforts. In addition to the support of the insular representatives of all five island Territories and the Hawai’i House delegation, the bill has attracted strong bipartisan support from the Members of the Florida delegation.
“Talofa! Thank you. It’s a pleasure to have a few moments to speak with you today. First of all, welcome to Pago Pago! I know you’ve been here a few days for your 40th meeting, and you’ve already been busy. I’m particularly glad you were able to go over to Manu’a and see even more of our beautiful islands. We are truly so blessed here in American Samoa, and likewise the coastal places that many of you call home. Finally, I appreciate the purpose of your visit, and your mission to ensure the health and future of our coral reefs, particularly when storms such as Cyclone Gita strike and do long-lasting damage.
“On Coconut Point, from the shoreline where I live, I can see one of our coral reefs and its role in the lifecycles of this island. From a lifetime in the Pacific islands, I understand the value of these places to our ecosystems and way of life – and I wish you every success in your efforts here and throughout the year on behalf of our coral reefs.
“As a Member of Congress from a Pacific Island Territory, I’ve found that the best path to accomplishment in Congress depends on two basic things: Persistence and Cooperation.
“To that end, I was pleased this year to be an original cosponsor of the Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act (H.R. 5996) to boost federal funding directly for coral reefs and strengthen key preservation and protection measures for the long-term health of coral reefs.
“This bipartisan legislation has unanimous support from the insular representatives of all five of the island Territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. I’m pleased to say that bipartisan unity is not at all unusual for these five Members.
“In part because of this mindset, a recent study, called the Bipartisan Index developed by Georgetown University and the Senator Richard Lugar Center, determined that I rank 14th out of all 441 House congressional seats in sponsoring and cosponsoring bipartisan bills. Since we’re not a large, influential place and we’re a long distance from most of the U.S., I am convinced that this method – built on relationships – is the best way forward to steadily achieve results for our Territory.
“I look forward to hearing from you about what we can continue to do to strengthen your efforts to preserve and protect our coral reefs. If there are other bills, particularly those with bipartisan support, that I should be taking a look at – send them my way, contact me or one of my staff, and I’ll be truly happy to examine that bill’s merits.
“If you’re ever in Washington, D.C. or back here in Pago Pago be sure to stop by the American Samoa Congressional office in either location to talk about what’s important to you, or simply to say hello! Our door is always open to you. Thank you again. God bless – and enjoy the rest of your time here.”