Hearing today on Senate version of bill to avert govt shutdown
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Administration’s bill enacting a temporary funding gap appropriation for the government went through new developments late last week in the Senate resulting in a committee hearing being re-scheduled for today, Monday, Oct. 26.
The bill provides consolidated appropriations and temporary funding to continue government operations until action on regular appropriations are completed. Further, the bill allows for continuing appropriations and prevents a “funding gap and corresponding government shutdown” for the fiscal year 2021.
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Magalei Logovi’i, during discussion last Wednesday, agreed to call in ASG Treasurer Ueligitone Tonumaipe’a, to find out the funding source for the bill and total amount of funds to be used, because it’s not specified in the proposed law.
It was also agreed at the time that the committee would focus its action on their version of the bill, not the House version, which was passed and sent to the Senate.
But 24-hours later, during last Thursday’s Senate session, the House version was placed on the agenda for a second reading and went through another lengthy discussion amongst senators. And it was passed in second reading.
Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Magalei Logovi’i and vice chair Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean weren’t present during Thursday’s session.
The measure was on the agenda for last Friday’s Senate session for third reading to be followed by the final floor vote.
Before the bill went through third reading, during the session, Magalei requested holding-off this action by the Senate and he questioned what happened to the Senate’s version of the measure.
He said he had contacted Tonumaipe’a that morning telling him not to come to the hearing, which was cancelled until the issue of the House version is resolved. He recalled that the committee had agreed to focus discussion on the Senate version.
Sen. Muagututia Tauoa pointed out that the public is awaiting the outcome of this measure pending in Senate and moved for the Senate to proceed with the House version. He asked his colleagues to do something simple and easy to help the public awaiting the outcome of this issue.
Other senators spoke in support of both Magalei and Muagututia. It was also noted during the floor debate that Tonumaipe’a was supposed to appeared before the Senate to discuss the funding source of the measure and the total amount of money that will be needed to fund the appropriations bill.
Magalei said Tonumaipe’a can answer those questions and he will personally walk to the ASG Treasury to ensure that he shows up for the committee hearing.
In the end the majority voted to withhold third reading of the House version while the committee holds a hearing today, on the Senate version, which some senators say should be the focus of their final vote.
Three faipule told Samoa News that they were hoping the Senate would act on the House version of the bill, so that the current special session would end — at least by last Friday or today (Monday), so that House members can concentrate better on their re-election bids before the Nov. 3rd general election.
ASG is currently operating under the governor’s executive order funding only personnel costs through Oct. 30th using funding levels of FY 2020.