U.S. CONGRESS BALKS AT AM. SAMOA FUNDING

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$18 million would pay cannery’s lost tax credit

By Fili Sagapolutele PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, June 29, 2010) - Congressman Faleomavaega Eni says a federal measure which includes the provision allocating US$18 million to American Samoa is still alive in the U.S. Senate and he has not given up on the proposal.

As previously announced by the Congressman, H.R. 4213 ‘American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act’ includes Faleomavaega’s request to provide a direct payment of US$18 million to ASG in lieu of the 30A tax credit.

The measure passed the House and is now with the U.S. Senate. Samoa News received information yesterday that the measure is no longer on the legislative agenda following a vote yesterday in the Senate.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries late yesterday afternoon Faleomavaega says the measure "is not dead", adding that the bill didn’t get the necessary 60 ‘yes’ votes to overcome any filibuster, during yesterday’s Senate vote.

(Filibuster is a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body whereby a lone member can elect to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a proposal.)

"We are not giving up on the bill," said Faleomavaega. "My little US$18 million request is just something small inside a bill that includes other major requests in the millions of dollars."

"There are all different factions involved, some seeking to cut more from the measure and others seeking to delete programs," said Faleomavaega, who is attending the Constitutional Convention as a delegate from his Fofo county.

With yesterday’s Senate vote it’s unclear as to when the measure will be taken up again as Congress heads into the 4th of July holiday break.

The measure is getting strong opposition from the other two tuna companies -- Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea International.

"We’re getting a fight from Bumble Bee, who does not want StarKist to be successful," he said and reiterated that unlike StarKist, Bumble Bee and COS are cleaning whole fish in a foreign country and sending loin to their processing centers in the U.S.

Faleomavaega has been working with his colleagues in both the Senate and House on this US$18 million provision.

Meanwhile, Faleomavaega responded to critics that nothing is being done on the minimum wage issue.

"Contrary to statements by others, that we have done nothing about the minimum wage, there is work ongoing on this issue. It’s not true we’re not doing anything at all," said Faleomavaega.

He said he continues to work with U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and other Congressional members to delay the wage increase.

"We’re trying to find a vehicle to tag on the delay," he said. "We don’t need to go through the process of having another hearing."

The next minimum wage increase goes into effect on Sept. 30.

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