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Amata speaks on House Floor to highlight needs of American Samoa’s workers

[Courtesy photo]
Source: Media release, office of Congresswoman Aumua Amata

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Aumua Amata spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to raise awareness in Congress of the needs of American Samoa’s workers who will be temporarily out of work this Thanksgiving season.

“I wanted to take this opportunity to make other Members of Congress aware of the needs of our people in American Samoa,” said Aumua Amata. “At certain times, the House allows brief speeches, known as One Minutes, to raise issues that are not related to the legislation that day. My goal was to focus attention on the loss of income that so many in American Samoa are facing because of the shutdown that impacts workers, their families and all the small businesses.”

Last week, Congresswoman Amata also released a Public Comment letter to the U.S. Department of Justice and the overseeing Judge, to urge them to strongly consider legal precedents potentially allowing parties to the Starkist Consent Decree to agree to set aside settlement funds to the benefit of the affected workers.

Full text of the Congresswoman’s remarks in the House of Representatives are below:

Mr. Speaker,

I rise in care and concern for my people in American Samoa in a time of need. I’m humbled to represent them to you now.

Over this Thanksgiving, over 2,000 of our families are being put out of work and small businesses will lose commerce, as American Samoa’s largest employer closes for a period of six weeks.

The Department of Justice-Starkist Consent Decree requires payment of $6.3 million. Unfortunately, this money comes to Washington, DC. The workers and their families lose their paychecks. The small businesses around them absorb losses. That’s wrong. These funds should stay on island to help them through this time. In fact, a case won by our Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale establishes the unique economic responsibility the U.S. has to American Samoa through the Deed of Cession.

American Samoa has high unemployment and low incomes. I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing the burden our federal government is placing on American Samoa this Thanksgiving.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield.