News Release

Congressman Eni Faleomavaega Government of American Samoa Washington, D.C. July 31, 2007

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the Committee on Foreign Affairs passed by unanimous consent H.R. 3062, the Pacific Island Economic and Educational Development Act of 2007.

Faleomavaega introduced the bill in three parts as a result of his work with the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders (PICL) and in consultation with Dr. Charles E. Morrison, President of the East-West Center in Honolulu.

At today’s mark-up, Faleomavaega introduced an amendment in the nature of a substitute which rolls three bills into one, providing US$1 million for each of fiscal years 2008 and 2009 for exchanges with Pacific Island countries carried out under the educational and cultural exchange programs of the Department of State. This is a continuation of the U.S.-South Pacific (USSP) Scholarship Program in the Pacific Islands Development Program at the East-West Center, which has been funded in recent years at $500,000 per hear. The first grant was received by the East-West Center in 1994.

H.R. 3062 also authorizes the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), upon the request by the government of a Pacific Island country, to provide government technical and other assistance.

Finally, the bill establishes a program with the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Educational Exchange Program to make awards to students from Pacific Island countries to permit such students to study in the U.S. pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Exchange Program.

Pacific Island countries, for the sake of this bill, are defined as the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Independent State of Samoa, Tonga, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.

"I want to thank Chairman Tom Lantos and Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for their support of this bill, and also the Members of the Committee who voted unanimously to move this bill forward. The bill will now be considered on the House Floor in the near future, and I am hopeful that the Senate will also take up the bill so we can get this legislation signed into law. Although we still have a ways to go before these measures can become law, I am pleased by today’s outcome and I, again, thank my colleagues for their support," Faleomavaega concluded.

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