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Good news for American Samoa in upcoming Interior Bill

Aumua Amata with Chairman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and the military flight crew
House version preserves ASG funding, Senate bill includes increases

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Aumua Amata is welcoming House passage of the Interior Appropriations bill that prevents cuts for American Samoa Government, and preserves last year’s increase of $250,000.

The House bill’s advance is a necessary step before it will either be combined with or replaced by a separate Senate bill that contains $718,000 in new funds and an LBJ hospital study for American Samoa. Congresswoman Amata supports the Senate bill provisions, but welcomed the progress that this week’s House action represents.

The Senate Interior funding bill is also moving forward. It was passed by the Appropriations Committee in late June, and is now expected to get a vote of the full Senate by this fall. At Amata’s request, the Senate bill contains two key provisions specific to American Samoa: New funding in the form of a boost of $718,000 for American Samoa Government, and an official report to Congress regarding the needs of the LBJ Tropical Medical Center.

“I’m pleased with the way the Interior Appropriations legislation is moving forward,” said Aumua Amata. “The House bill is a good step that ensures there won’t be cuts to the funds for American Samoa, and preserves the gains we made last year. The Senate bill is the next step and I will continue supporting the American Samoa provisions.”

Chairman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a longtime friend of American Samoa and the Territories, ensured the presence of these two priorities as the bill was written and passed at the Subcommittee and Committee levels.

Congresswoman Amata had a series of discussions on American Samoa’s needs, including the impact of Cyclone Gita, personally with Chairman Murkowski in the lead-up to the 2019 Appropriations process. Chairman Murkowski leads the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, and Chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“Chairman Murkowski is a great friend to the Territories, and I always appreciate opportunities to discuss American Samoa’s needs with her,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “In developing the legislation, the Senate Committee report specifies Cyclone Gita’s impact on our islands, and expresses the concerns of the Committee and Chairman Murkowski that Congress needs an official report on the condition of the hospital.”