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Voices raised in Senate as Tulifua asks for no confirmation hearings

Voices were raised last Friday during the Senate session after the governor’s nominations for two cabinet members were introduced and assigned to the appropriate committees for confirmation hearings.

The governor has reappointed Dr. Jacinta S. Galeai as director of the Education Department and Ivy Aiumu-Taufa’asau as Chief Procurement Officer. Names for the two nominees were first presented to the Fono for confirmation during the second regular session last year, but failed to muster full Fono support and were officially rejected.

At Friday’s session during the announcement portion of the day’s agenda, Sen. Tulifua Tini Lam Yuen said that there was no need to bring back to the Senate for another confirmation hearing the two nominees; and asked to have their names submitted to the full membership for a final vote.

Tulifua, who is also chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said the Senate has already heard testimonies from the two nominees, who were rejected by the Senate in the last session. He said he believes that a person should not be punished for other people’s decisions, adding that the two nominees are well qualified to serve in their appointed posts.

Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie interjected saying the Senate decision was not based on recommendations from outsiders or another person, but was based solely on the final decision made by each senator.

By the time he finished his remarks, Gaoteote’s voice was raised higher than usual.

Tulifua went on with his statement, saying that he would not argue with the Senate President, but he believes that the two nominees should not be required to return to the Senate to be questioned by senators during another confirmation hearing.

Gaoteote quickly replied that the nominees were questioned by the Senate during the second regular session and not the current, third regular session. The Senate president noted his disappointment with Tulifua’s request for the nominees to be presented for a final vote when a required hearing has not been carried out in accordance with Senate rules.

Sen. Lualemaga Faoa agreed with Gaoteote that the nominees must go through required confirmation hearings as cited by Senate rules.

Sen. Fonoti T. Aufata, who is vice chair of the Senate Government Operations Committee assigned to review Aiumu-Taufa’asau’s nomination, noted she believes that there is no need for Aiumu-Taufa’asau to be called back to the Senate for another confirmation hearing.

Gaoteote gave the same reply that the confirmation hearing was to proceed forth, because this is a new session — the third session.

In the end, the Senate Government Operations Committee scheduled for this Friday morning a confirmation hearing for Aiumu-Taufa’asau, while no Senate hearing date has been set for Dr. Galeai, whose nomination was assigned to the Senate Education Committee for review.

Meanwhile the House Government Operations Committee has set for 8:30 a.m. this Thursday the confirmation hearing for the CPO-appointee, while the House Education Committee has set 11 a.m. the same day for the confirmation hearing for Dr. Galeai.

Samoa News reporter Ausage Fausia contributed to this report.