INTERIOR APPROPRIATIONS BILL PASSES U.S. SENATE

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CONGRESSMAN ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA

From American Samoa

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.

NEWS RELEASE

September 24, 1999

WITH AMERICAN SAMOA'S PROVISIONS INTACT

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the (U.S. Department of the) Interior Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2000, which begins in one week, was passed by the United States Senate, with American Samoa's provisions for government operations and capital improvements in tact.

"I am pleased to report that the Senate is supporting American Samoa's government operations at $23 million, and capital construction at $10.1 million, as in previous years," said Faleomavaega. "After considerable discussion, the Senate decided not to include the tobacco provision in its bill. Omitting the provision gives the House and Senate Conferees considerable flexibility in negotiating the final terms. There is support for amending the provision so that ASG will have to pay back only the money it borrows plus interest, with no additional charges. I have been discussing this option with the Conferees and their staffs and I remain optimistic we can make this change to the provision adopted in the House.

"As I reported in July, two amendments adopted by the House could affect American Samoa's federal funding, both of which would reduce the amount ASG gets. I have also made my views known on these provisions," said the Congressman.

This year's Interior bill was another bruising battle in the Senate over how to value oil removed from federal land. This one issue delayed action in the Senate for weeks, with the provision favored by the oil companies winning with a vote of 51-47.

The bill remains controversial because of several environmental riders which were attached. Some of the President's advisors have recommended that he veto the bill because of these riders. It is expected that conferees will be appointed soon.

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