Congress increases American Samoa’s Insular Budget at Amata’s request, boosts military pay and veterans funding

Source: Office of the Congresswoman

Washington, D.C. Friday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata announced the passage of H.R. 1625, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, the major yearly government funding bill, including an increase in the ASG operations account and a 2.4% military pay raise.

The negotiators in the House of Representatives and Senate leadership, at Amata’s request,  rejected a proposed cut of over $1.2 million to the American Samoa Government’s (ASG) operations account and instead adopted Amata’s proposed $250,000 increase – a combined difference of over $1.45 million to the ASG account in the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Office of Insular Affairs (OIA). The change was adopted in the House passed bill after her testimony to the Appropriations Subcommittee that handles the DOI and OIA Budgets as the summary chart shows:

 

FY 2017 Enacted

FY 2018 Request

Final Bill

Final Bill vs. Enacted

Final Bill vs Request

ASG Operations

22,752,000

21,529,000

23,002,000

+250,000

+1,473,000

The Bill accordingly secures and increases the ASG’s fiscal year 2018 funds from the Interior Department with an overall increase of $250,000 to the ASG operations account.

Signed into law Friday, the Omnibus spending also provides:

  • The largest investment in the Armed Forces in over 15 years with an increase of over $61 billion in support of our troops;
  • A military pay increase of 2.4% and an additional increase of $764 million for the Defense Health and Military Family Programs for cancer, traumatic brain injury and psychological health research and treatment as well as additional funds for sexual assault prevention and response;
  • Robust funding for military housing construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs, with an increase of over $7 billion or 9.5% for VA programs and medical care services, including additional funds to help speed up the process to address the backlog in disability claims, something Amata advocated for and supported in her role on the House Veterans Committee.

 

“This legislation restores $1.2 million in funding for American Samoa that was threatened early in the budget process, and then adds $250,000 more than the previous year,” said Aumua Amata. “The federal government has fiscal responsibilities to American Samoa, and I appreciate that House leaders understood the negative impact that cuts would have had in American Samoa and we were able to secure this funding. Already, I’ve expressed concerns for the next fiscal year and we’re laying the groundwork to preserve the territory’s funding going forward. In addition, the funding bill provides a much-needed increase in pay for our troops and more money for better housing and healthcare for those who protect us.”

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