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March 22, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Faleomavaega urges full participation in the upcoming census in American Samoa

Congressman Faleomavaega today calls on all residents of American Samoa to make their voices heard and urge them to get counted in the upcoming 2010 Census.

"When you fill out the Census form, you're making a statement about what resources American Samoa needs," Faleomavaega stated. "Identifying our needs is a crucial step towards gaining access to federal programs and an overall improved well-being for our people. By participating in the Census, you're securing our place at the policy-making table."

"Census data affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal funding is distributed to state and local governments. We need an accurate count of our population to get our fair share of resources for health, education, transportation, and more. Full participation is necessary for our future success." the Congressman added.

"At the end of March, each P.O. Box in American Samoa will receive an Advance Census Report. Residents will be instructed to complete the form and hold on to it until a Census Enumerator or Census Taker comes to their home to pick up the questionnaire. If the family has not completed the questionnaire or if they did not receive one, the Census Enumerator will be able to assist. Enumerators will be your key resource in filling out the census form; they have been trained to assist with any questions you may have about any part of the Census questionnaire. They will also have extra forms on hand."

"I commend Alex Zodiacal, our Local Census Office Manager, and his staff in American Samoa who have labored especially hard in publicizing the Census to our communities and in hiring and training staff in preparation for the data collection. I also want to acknowledge Mr. Douglas Lee, the Census Advisor and Liaison to ASG from Census headquarters for his assistance and advice to ensure that we have a complete and accurate Census in American Samoa. Their attention to detail and organization further emphasizes the extreme importance of an accurate count and I commend their efforts," Faleomavaega added.

"As your representative in Congress, this data also helps me advocate for resources and policies to benefit our people. When you fill out the census form, you are putting the numbers in to back up our needs. It will also help maintain successful programs and give credence for additional programs that we know we need."

"Your participation will help determine the amount of aid we receive from formula grants and help score proposals for competitive grants in the future. Through an accurate count, we will also have the necessary info rmation to help the private sector and local organizations in determining better strategies for serving our people. In short, we need your help to move forward."

"I also know that there is a concern or fear of government intrusion. I assure you that your personal info rmation is safe and kept confidential by law. Under Title 13, Section 9 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau is prohibited from sharing your answers with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. All Census Bureau employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of your info rmation. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both. If we plan to move forward as one, we cannot let any false fears keep us from making our voices heard."

"Once again I strongly urge all residents of American Samoa to make our voices heard in this year's Census. Our participation today will have a lasting impact in decisions that affect our future over the next ten years. When you receive your form, know that your role will make a difference. Your participation will help secure American Samoa's place at the table," Faleomavaega concluded.


March 21, 2010

Washington, D.C. -- House passes historic Health Care Reform Bill with over $180 million in Medicaid increases for American Samoa

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that by a vote of 220–211 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010. The bill now goes to the Senate for their consideration.

"If enacted into law, American Samoa will receive $285.5 million in total Medicaid spending for the next 9 years, or an increase of over $180 million," Faleomavaega said. "This is a momentous accomplishment and a momentous occasion in the history of our great nation."

"It is momentous in the sense that this long-overdue, comprehensive overhaul of our national Healthcare system is desperately needed to address rising medical costs and to extend coverage to our fellow Americans that are often left to fend for themselves, and I want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her leadership in bringing this important issue to the Floor for consideration."

"I also want to express my gratitude to President Obama and the Democratic House and Senate leadership for their willingness to work hand-in-hand with the Congressional Delegates to resolve our concerns and reduce the health disparity facing the Territories."

"On the House side, I want to particularly thank both Chairman Henry Waxman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and Chairman Charles Rangel of the Committee on Ways and Means for their unwavering support in addressing the concerns put forward by the Congressional Delegates. On the Senate side, I also want to thank Senator Chris Dodd and Senator Charles Schumer for their assistance."

"Most of all, I wish to recognize my fellow Congressional Delegates, Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands for her work in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Gregorio Sablan of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas and Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico for their advocacy in the House Committee on Education and Labor, and Madeleine Bordallo of Guam for her leadership as the Chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Healthcare Task Force. Together, we worked relentlessly to bring about change for those we represent."

"This entire Healthcare overhaul would not have been possible without the support of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and I want to especially recognize the efforts of Congressman Mike Honda, Chairman of CAPAC."

"While the bill before us is far from ideal and not the perfect solution to all our health care issues, it is imperative and also the constitutional responsibility of the Members of this Chamber to act in the best interest of those who are suffering, particularly in light of the heart-wrenching stories told of people dying, parents worrying and families living in fear because they have no health insurance."

"Just last year, it was estimated that 625 Americans lost their health insurance every hour. So even though we may not agree on how to make this right, we can agree that to do nothing is not an acceptable course of action. Our fellow Americans deserve our help."

"The some 4.4 million Americans living in the Territories also deserve to be recognized and this is why I am pleased that this bill acknowledges that we are part of the American family. Although much remains to be desired, this bill is a step towards bringing the Territories to parity with the States. Under Section 1204, the Territories—Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands—will receive an additional $6.3 billion over a 9 year period in federal funding for Medicaid costs."

"American Samoa will receive $285.5 million in total Medicaid spending for the next 9 years, or an increase of over $180 million."

"This legislation also provides $1 billion for the Territories to participate in the Health Insurance Exchange program, the centerpiece of this Healthcare Reform Legislation. Each of the Territories will be afforded the option to participate or transfer their allocation to their Medicaid program. If American Samoa chooses not to participate in the Exchange, the Territory will receive an additional $18.75 million for its Medicaid program."

The following chart shows what American Samoa will receive on a yearly basis.

Year What ASG gets now, or Base Funding (adjusted for inflation at rate of 4.60%) Additional Funds ASG will receive if Reconciliation Act of 2010 is signed into law Total Amount ASG will receive if Reconciliation Act of 2010 is signed into law (Base + Additional funds)
2011 $9,696,420 $6,593,566 $16,289,986
2012 $10,142,455 $18,459,269 $28,601,724
2013 $10,609,008 $19,308,395 $29,917,403
2014 $11,097,023 $20,196,581 $31,293,604
2015 $11,607,486 $21,125,624 $32,733,110
2016 $12,141,430 $22,097,403 $34,238,833
2017 $12,699,936 $23,113,883 $35,813,819
2018 $13,284,133 $24,177,122 $37,461,255
2019 $13,895,203 $25,289,269 $39,184,472
GRAND TOTAL $105,173,094 $180,361,112 $285,534,205

"With the historic passage of this legislation and the increased federal funding it will provide if enacted into law, I am hopeful that the American Samoa Government and Legislature will do all it can to provide quality and affordable health care for the people of American Samoa."

"In 2005, the findings of the American Samoa Health Survey estimated that only 25% of the population had insurance and, with the rising cost of health care, it is highly likely that the number of insured in American Samoa has declined drastically since that time."

"“But now, with such a significant increase in federal funding, ASG will once more have the tools it needs to improve healthcare and health coverage for the residents of the Territory and to meet the challenges which have been exacerbated by the Territory’s remote location and the exponential rate of chronic diseases."

"In light of the current political environment surrounding healthcare reform, President Obama’s own testimony in Ohio last week best summarizes the necessity and the very reason why Congress must pass this legislation today. The President said, “I’m here because of my own mother’s story. She died of cancer, and in the last six months of her life, she was on the phone in her hospital room arguing with insurance companies instead of focusing on getting well and spending time with her family."

"Millions of Americans share the same story, and this legislation is critical for the welfare of all Americans. This legislation is not only about saving money and reducing the deficit or addressing the billions wasted in Medicare. This legislation is about providing for those who cannot provide for themselves. It is about the fundamental right of healthcare for all."

"At its best, this bill is a step toward equality and justice for all Americans and, for this reason, I thank my colleagues for supporting this historic legislation and, most especially for working hand-in-hand with the Congressional Delegates’ to make certain that the Territories were included and that our concerns were addressed. As this legislation continues to move forward, I will keep our people updated," Faleomavaega concluded.


March 17, 2010

Washington, D.C. - American Samoa allocated over $10 million for qualified school construction bonds

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that American Samoa has been allocated over $10 million for qualified school construction bonds as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that was passed by Congress on February 17, 2009.

According to Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin, "Recovery Act school construction bonds provide low-cost borrowing to build and upgrade schools which is a win-win for communities across the country. The projects funded with these bonds create jobs today building modern schools to prepare our kids for the global economy of tomorrow."

In 2010, the Recovery Act will allocate $6.6 billion in bonding authority to 50 states and 4 territories. The remaining $4.4 billion will be allocated to 103 large local educational agencies under a statutory formula tied to levels of federal education grant funding. Under ARRA (Title I, Subtitle F, Part III, Section 1521), American Samoa's allocation is determined on the "basis of respective populations of individuals below the poverty line" as a portion of the entire U.S. population below the poverty line. This year, American Samoa will be eligible for $10,614,000 in Recovery Act school construction bonds.

"Essentially, these tax credit bonds will allow ASG to obtain low-cost financing for much needed construction, rehabilitation or repair of our schools and may also be used for the acquisition of land where a school will be built. Projects funded with these bonds will provide American Samoa with a means of better preparing our children for future academic success by improving the quality of their learning environments, and I thank Congress and the Obama Administration for working closely with the Congressional Delegates to make sure that our requests for opportunities and funding were included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," Faleomavaega concluded.


March 16, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Faleomavaega thanks US Department of Transportation for $2.5 million grant for airport improvement projects in American Samoa

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded the American Samoa Government two grants totaling $2.5 million. The two grants are both funded from the Airport Improvement Program administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Airport Improvement Program was established by Congress under the Airport and Airway Improvement of 1982 that has been reauthorized in 2003 as the Vision100 - Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act. The $2 million discretionary grant will provide funding to continue the installation of the perimeter fencing and the $500,000 entitlement grant will continue to fund improvements to the terminal building at the Pago Pago International Airport.

"This grant funding is critical for our main airport given the high priority of safety and access for visitors and locals travelling to and from American Samoa," said Faleomavaega. "The perimeter fencing will help enhance safety by restricting access for unauthorized persons within areas designated for airport operations and runways. This is critical today given the events of September 11, 2001."

"The modernization of the terminal building is welcomed during this time especially with an aging airport. The modernization project includes the upgrade of the passenger departure lobby and will also provide more space in improving the efficiency of processing passengers through the main terminal. This will make travelers more comfortable particularly with the long waiting lines and security checkpoints prior to departure."

"I want to take this opportunity to thank Matagi McMoore, the Director of the Port Administration, and the Governor for their efforts in improving our entry ports in American Samoa. I, especially, want to thank my good friend and former colleague, Secretary LaHood of the USDOT, and J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator for FAA, for their continued support of improving American Samoa's infrastructure," concluded Faleomavaega.


March 12, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Two sons of Samoa selected for promotion to Colonel in U.S. Air Force - Stephen L. Su'a-Filo and Stanley Ulualofaiga Snow, Jr.

Congressman Faleomavaega today offered his congratulations to two sons of Samoa, Mr. Stephen L. Su’a- Filo and Mr. Stanley Ulualofaiga Snow, Jr. who were recently selected for promotion to Colonel at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Colonel Stephen L. Su'a-Filo

Colonel Su'a-Filo is now the 154th Operations Group Commander. Prior to being promoted to Colonel and his new command position, Su'a-Filo held the 154th Deputy Operations Group Commander position where he advised and assisted the 154th Operations Group Commander on operations and training programs, policies for three flying squadrons, a radar control squadron, and a support squadron. He also monitored all flying training, weapons control, standardization, safety, flying hour management, manpower, finances and air defense alert programs. Su'a-Filo recently served as the 204th Airlift Squadron (AS) Commander from 2007 to 2009, leading them through the first ever combined C-17 Guard/Active Duty "Operational Readiness Inspection" in February of 2009, achieving the grade of "Excellent."

Colonel Su'a-Filo is an Evaluator Pilot in the C-17A and a Command Pilot with over 7,240 total flying hours including Combat Support Sorties. He has flown the T-37, T-38, KC-135A, Q, R, T, EC-135J, KC-10, and the F-15 fighter aircraft. He has performed frequent visits to flying and ground-controlled interception units and provided policy direction and guidance to unit commanders. He worked and continues to work closely with the 15th Air Wing, Hawaii Air National Guard (HIANG) Headquarters in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Colonel Su'a-Filo has served on numerous real world deployments to Turkey, Italy, Iceland, Russia, France, Croatia, Australia, Guam, India and participated in numerous training deployments in Thailand, Philippines, Australia, England, Japan, South Korea, Alaska, and Germany.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Colonel Su'a-Filo is the son of Paul Fogalepolo Su'a-Filo of Upolu and Dorothy Coverdale Su'a-Filo of Hull, England. Su'a-Filo graduated from Kahuku High School in 1976. He then served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and afterwards attended and graduated from the University of Hawaii and received his commission through the ROTC program in 1984. Colonel Su'a-Filo is married to Francine "Cookie" Mililani Hong and are proud parents of seven children.

Colonel Stanley Ulualofaiga Snow, Jr.

Colonel Snow has held several leadership positions throughout his career, most recently as Full-Time Supervisor of the 109th Air Operations Group (AOG) of the Hawaii Air National Guard. There he served as Chief of the Combat Operations Division unit to augment the 613th Air and Space Operations Center, Pacific Command. Colonel Snow was responsible for offensive and defensive combat operations throughout the entire Pacific area theater of operations.

Colonel Snow served a two-year mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Washington, D.C. where he knew Congressman Faleomavaega and his family during his work with the Insular Affairs Office. After completing his mission, he graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah in 1983 where received his commission as a Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force ROTC; he also was student brigade Commander of the BYU Air Force ROTC program. Colonel Snow began his career in Alaska as an A-10 pilot before becoming a Fighter instructor at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Colonel Snow then earned a Master of Aeronautical Science in Aerospace Operations and Aviation Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1998.

Colonel Snow is currently a Command Fighter Pilot with more than 3,100 total military flight hours. He has flown the F-15, AT-38B, A-10 and C-130 aircraft. His extensive experience includes time as military flight instructor and in combat service over Iraq. His prior service in the Hawaii Air National Guard includes positions as Chief of the 154th Wing Control Center where he commanded post operations of the four squadron composite wing. He served as Commander of the F-15 Alert Program and as point of contact to PACAF Air Defense Commander for all fighter operations issues regarding the Hawaiian Air Defense mission. Colonel Snow has also qualified and flew the F-22 aircraft.

Since 1992, Colonel Snow has also worked as an International and Domestic Airline Pilot for United Airlines. He has flown over 6,200 hours as a qualified B-747 and B-777 pilot and currently works as Airline Captain of the A-320 Airbus based in San Francisco. Additionally, Colonel Snow is an Upper-Division Adjunct Instructor for the Aviation Department of Utah Valley University’s Provo Airport Campus, teaching the Global Navigation/International Flight Operations on-line course.

Colonel Snow is the son of Stanley Snow Sr. of Fagatogo and Taavale Tulimalefo'i Asuega Ainuu of Pago Pago. Colonel Snow is married to Yolanthy Leinalani Tagiafoga "Lani" Kanahele, and are proud parents of four children.

"I want to take this opportunity to congratulate both Colonel Su'a-Filo and Colonel Snow for their promotion to this much esteemed rank," Faleomavaega said.

"Seeing the achievements of these two sons of Samoa as they rise in rank in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard is an inspiration to our people and sets a standard of excellence for all who serve and will serve our country in the future. They have continued to further their military careers by taking on leadership roles that require the highest levels of skill, dedication and responsibility.  Surely their extensive experience will prepare them for their new assignments. More importantly, their character will enable them to serve with dignity throughout our Pacific community and the world.  I know that both Colonel Su'a-Filo and Colonel Snow will serve us well."

"I would also like to express my appreciation to both Colonel Su'a-Filo and Colonel Snow for their assistance during the recent tsunami relief mission to American Samoa. Colonel Su'a-Filo served as the pilot on several flights out of Honolulu, including my flight to American Samoa, shortly after the tsunami. Colonel Snow also played a vital role in coordinating Hickam AFB operations as the Air National Guard Liaison to the 15th Air Wing Command Center and PACAF Air Mobility Division. He also maintained direct contact with the Deputy Director of Airport Operations throughout the relief mission. I thank both of these self-sacrificing leaders in their service to our people."

"I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate both the Su'a-Filo and Snow families and wish them the very best as they continue to be the support system behind these two highly accomplished officers of the Air Force," Faleomavaega concluded.


March 4, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Faleomavaega speaks to Sacramento and Los Angeles Pacific Island Communities about importance of Census Registration

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he was invited by the Pacific Islander Community leaders of Northern California as well as of Southern California to speak at their Census kick-off events last Saturday - first in Sacramento and then in Carson. The objective for both Census events was to highlight for the Pacific Islander community throughout California and throughout the nation the tremendous importance of participating and being counted in the 2010 Census.

The day began at the "Get Counted" Census 2010 Forum at the CSU Sacramento campus where the Congressman was joined by Dr. Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Dr. Sela Panapasa, Chairperson of the Census Advisory Committee on the Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Populations, and Mona Pasquil, the Acting Lieutenant Governor of California.

The event, which was co-hosted by the Sacramento Pacific Islander Leadership Forum (SPILF) and the Polynesian Connection Club (PCC), brought together nearly 500 Pacific Islanders from the Northern California area. Local leaders from the Complete Count Committee including Chairperson Elizabeth Lynn and committee members Steve Tupolo, Ed Unutoa, and Mileti Afuahaamango charted six buses from San Francisco, San Jose, San Mateo, Santa Rosa, Hayward, Oakland and other areas. Those in attendance represented many Pacific Islander communities including Samoan, Hawaiian, Tongan, Fijian, Tahitian, Maori, and Marshallese. Dr. Groves fielded questions from the audience along with a Pacific Islander Census panel including Steve Tupolo, Elaine Howard, and Valo and James Letoa.

Congressman Faleomavaega ended the day speaking at the Southern California Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Census 2010 Kick-Off at CSU Dominguez Hills in Carson. Dr. Groves and Dr. Panapasa also joined the Congressman at the Southern California event which drew in over 400 Pacific Islanders from the Los Angeles Area, San Diego Oceanside, and the Inland Empire. Over 100 of the attendees were youth, three of which encouraged the community with special presentations on the importance of Census.

The collaborative effort was organized by the Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Alliance (NHPIA), Tongan Community Service Center, Pacific Islander Health Partnership, Office of Samoan Affairs, Guam Communications Network, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, and the Pacific Islander Community Council, with representative leaders including NHPIA Executive Director Kawen Young, Vanessa Tui'one, Kaiwi and Ka'ala Pang, Pat Luce, Joey Quenga, Christen Marquez, Chris Vaimili, Audrey Alo, Tana Lepule, Joanne Fields, and Lono and Sharon Collars.

In attendance also were Carson Mayor Jim Dear, Samoa Honorary Consul Teri Rotter, and Dr. Mitch Maki of CSU Dominguez Hills. Congresswoman Laura Richardson, who could not attend due to illness, was represented by her District Staff Manager Eric Boyd.

At both events Congressman Faleomavaega encouraged Pacific Islanders to secure their place at the table by making sure that everyone is counted in this year's Census, bringing home the point that "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu."

The Congressman also shared several important reasons why the Pacific Islander community is especially in need of a complete count.

"Although Pacific Islanders make up only 0.4 percent of our nation's population, they are among the fastest growing demographic groups in the United States today and this rapid growth is expected to continue in years to come. The 2000 Census counted some 874,000 Pacific Islanders. Since then, the number has grown by over 33 percent, surpassing the 1 million mark in 2007. This year, the Census Bureau is projecting more 1,176,000. If you do the math, that’s an average growth of almost 60,000 Pacific Islanders every year since the 1 million mark in 2007," Faleomavaega said.

However, according to the Census Bureau, Pacific Islanders had the highest percent net undercount in 2000 of any ethnic group. Compared to Asians and Whites who were over-counted by 0.3%, Pacific Islanders were under-counted by 4.6%. Faleomavaega underlined the reality that "undercount" means under-representation.

"This means we are also underserved through federal programs created to help communities like ours. We must understand that such an alarming inefficiency of data makes it difficult to assess and address our needs. Given that census data drives allocation of more than $400 billion per year in federal programs, we cannot let this continue as our numbers grow. We need to make sure everyone is counted."

In addition to the lack of data, Congressman Faleomavaega also stressed the importance of the Census in supporting the future of Pacific Islander youth. "Pacific Islanders had higher percentages of youth and children compared to other groups. Among Pacific Islanders alone, Samoans, Tongans, and Marshallese had the highest proportions of those under 18 in the 2000 Census."

"This means that for every adult you see here today, there are many more youth and children who need to be counted. We make the decision on their behalf. Our decision to fill out the census will affect our young people for the next ten years. So let's not have another undercount. They'll have to wait another ten years to correct it," the Congressman added. "We're not just talking about numbers. We're talking about decisions that will set the tone for our children's future."

"Many of us here have made a new home and raised our children in America, a land of opportunity and democracy. Yet we must all remember that democracy takes work and does not guarantee any definite outcomes. Making democracy work for our Pacific Islander community is going to require asserting our place at the table. We need to work together as a community towards the prosperity we hope for. Everyone must be counted so that we can get things moving in our communities, get programs funded, and work towards the well-being of all of our families."

Overall, the successful turnouts in both Northern and Southern California both demonstrated the strength in working together and the camaraderie between Pacific Islanders across the state. Census forms will be mailed out next month and local leaders on the ground will continue outreaching to their communities to ensure that everyone gets counted.

"In 2010, we need to contribute to our visibility, make our voices heard, and secure our place at the table. If we're not at the table, then we're going to be on the menu," Faleomavaega concluded.


March 9, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Faleomavaega hosts Close Up students from American Samoa

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he hosted 16 students and 5 teachers from American Samoa during their stay in Washington, D.C. for the Close Up program last week. This year's group represented the high schools of Fa'asao/Marist, Faga'itua, Kanana Fou, Leone, Manu'a, Nu'uuli Polytechnic, Samoana, and Tafuna.

Their first day with the Congressman began at the brand-new Capitol Visitor's Center, on Wednesday March 3rd. Honored guests at the first Capitol Hill public viewing of the film Hokule'a – Guiding Star, the students and teachers took their front row seats alongside The Honorable Banny deBrum, Republic of the Marshall Islands Ambassador to the U.S., and Mr. Nikolao Pula, Director of the Office of Insular Affairs at the Department of Interior.

The educational film, brought to Capitol Hill by Congressman Faleomavaega and the Smithsonian Institution, offered the students a cultural perspective of the Polynesian navigators on-board the voyage of the Hawaiian canoe Hokule'a to the island of Rapa Nui. Echoed in the film and throughout their time with the Congressman was the theme of passing on invaluable cultural traditions and insight to younger generations.

After the film the students, dressed in their traditional Samoan puletasi attires, headed directly to the Rayburn House Office Building where they were guests of Chairman Faleomavaega during a hearing of the Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment. The hearing focused on the Regional Overview of East Asia and the Pacific. There the students observed witness Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary on the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and his testimony to the Subcommittee.

The next day, the students returned to Capitol Hill for Q & A and lunch with the Congressman as well as a tour of the Capitol. Gathered in the Congressman's office they went around the room for introductions, sharing their educational interests and plans for the future. Their interests ranged from biology, business, and agriculture to anthropology, math, government and philosophy. Their career goals varied from doctor to engineer. One student shared her goal to major in political science with an emphasis on human rights. Another student shared his plan to study architecture at MIT, while another shared her goal of following her mother's footsteps to become a pharmacist. From Captain of the soccer team to Student Body President, their various leadership roles and accomplishments reflected their energy and determination to succeed.

Congressman Faleomavaega also fielded questions from the students ranging from healthcare and education in American Samoa, to the war in Afghanistan and immigration policy. The Congressman encouraged the students to always "aim for first place" in their educational pursuits while holding on to their language and respecting their elders – the umbilical chords connecting them to their roots.

Lunch came to a close as the sound of Lo ta nu'u resonated through the halls of the Rayburn House Office Building. The group then began their Capitol tour where they visited the Capitol rotunda and the National Statuary Hall. They also sat in the House Gallery during floor statements in the House Chamber. Finally, the group gathered with the Congressman for a final photo on the steps of the Capitol. The below forty degree temperature outside didn’t stop them from having fun, as they joined Faleomavaega in one more round of singing before their departure to New York City the next morning.

Congressman Faleomavaega expressed his gratitude to the Close Up organizers for continuing to educate American Samoa students through exposure to the nation's capital. Founded in 1971, Close Up is a nonprofit organization that inspires young people through civic education and gives teachers valuable insights to take back to classrooms nationwide. Using Washington as a living classroom, each program gives students a "close up" personal experience with government and democracy in action.

"I thank our students for continuing to strive for success and representing American Samoa with the utmost excellence. Their inquisitive minds and passion for learning will take them far in their journey. I want their teachers, parents and families to know how proud I am of their accomplishments and goals for the future," Faleomavaega said.

"I also want to thank Paulo Salave'a, coordinator of the Close Up program in American Samoa, and the high school teachers – Salote Aoelua-Fanene (Faga'itua), Dora Samuelu (Leone), Brenda Aisoli (Samoana), and John Maiava (Tafuna) for the fine work they are doing in our high schools. Lastly I want to thank the Close Up Foundation for hosting the students and allowing our office to be a part of their 'living classroom' in Washington," Faleomavaega concluded.

Note: The students who participated in this year’s Close Up program are listed below.

1 Fitimaleafa Kalameli TapauFa'asao/Marist
2 Angel Vaimauga Faga'itua
3 Vaimalu Vaiau Faga'itua
4 Alfred Jordan Tautolo Kanana Fou
5 David Sene Leone
6 Toni Ott Leone
7 Vanila Sera Lalisha Taai Leone
8 Fa'atauave Shannon Maiava Manu'a
9 Ronise Fiao'o Mamea Nu'uuli Poly-Tech
10 Elecia Fa'aiuaso Samoana
11 Isidore Barnabas Slade Samoana
12 Kristina Vernes Samoana
13 Norelle Que Tafuna
14 Jaselle Etelagi Tafuna
15 Teuilafestival Lemisio Tafuna
16 Allen Ah Young Tafuna

February 24, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Faleomavaega commends Congressman Abercrombie for passing of H.R. 2314, Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the House, by a vote of 245 Yeas to 164 Nays, passed H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009. This legislation will give Native Hawaiians the right to organize and form their own government similar to that of the Native American tribes and indigenous Native Alaskans.

"Yesterday, the House took a historical step towards affording our Pacific brothers and sisters the opportunity to organize their own government similar to the First Americans and the indigenous Native Alaskans. This legislation is a culmination of 10 years of hard work by the congressional delegation from Hawaii and I want to recognize the efforts of my good friends Congressman Abercrombie and Congresswoman Hirono, as well as the hard work of Senators Akaka and Inouye," Faleomavaega said.

"For the past 10 years, the Congress has debated the status of Native Hawaiians and whether they should be treated in the same way as Native American Indians and Native Alaskans. Opposing views claim that this legislation would create a race-based government setting a new precedent for communities across the U.S. But as myself and my colleagues have been arguing, the Congress has the constitutional power to provide for the recognition of the indigenous people of this nation prior to European contact irrespective of whether it is in the 48 contingent states, Alaska, or Hawaii," Faleomavaega explained.

"Native Hawaiians are in fact indigenous, aboriginal people living within what is now the borders of the United States, and it is unfortunate that even today the status of some 400,000 indigenous Native Hawaiians have yet to be afforded the same recognition as our first Americans."

"Similar bills have been approved before by the House only to fall short in the Senate. And while the Senate has yet to vote on the current bipartisan legislation, I am hopeful that with the leadership of Senators Akaka and Inouye the Senate will approve this important piece of legislation. President Obama has also indicated that he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk," Faleomavaega said.

"Again, I want to recognize Congressman Abercrombie, Congresswoman Hirono, and all the supporters of this historical legislation. I want to thank Chairman Nick Rahall and the Committee on Natural Resources for his leadership. And I also want to commend Haunani Apoliona and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for their commitment to protect the rights of Native Hawaiians. I want to especially acknowledge Senator Akaka for his kokua for Native Hawaiians and all Pacific Islanders."

"On a different note, I want to take this opportunity to wish my good friend, Neil, a fond farewell as he resigns from his commitments in the House this Friday to pursue the Governorship for the State of Hawaii in the November elections. Neil and I have both worked closely for the past 20 years. In the Committee on Natural Resources, we both fought hard for the protection of our environment and for the rights of all indigenous groups. Neil will be truly missed as he is a true friend and one who has continued to work both sides of the aisle. He has represented Hawaii's First District well and I wish him the very best," Congressman Faleomavaega concluded.


February 19, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Faleomavaega asks President Obama to visit American Samoa

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that on February 2, 2010, one day after the White House announced that President Obama would be visiting Australia, Indonesia and Guam, Faleomavaega wrote to the President and asked if could also stop in American Samoa, if it all possible, on his return from Australia to Washington.

Faleomavaega followed up his request with letters to top White House officials, including White House Chief of Staff Mr. Rahm Emanuel and Ms. Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. Faleomavaega has also enlisted the help of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

"If it is at all possible for President Obama to stop in American Samoa on his return from Australia, I think it would be a nice way for the President as Commander-in-Chief to just say thank you to the thousands of our Samoan men and women who currently serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, especially since no President has visited American Samoa since Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1967," Faleomavaega said. "A visit by President Obama would be especially meaningful to the people of American Samoa since he is the first President of the United States born and raised in Hawaii. Because his family is very much part of our Pacific family, our people would be deeply honored and very proud to welcome him to our islands."

"As I stated in my letter to the President, the Iraq war death rate per 1 million population is higher for American Samoa than any other State or Territory, and I enclosed two articles by USA Today for the President's information which commends our military men and women for their outsized sacrifice."

"In my letter to President Obama, I also noted that American Samoa was hit by the most powerful earthquake of 2009 which set off a tsunami with waves that towered over 20 feet high and which resulted in deeply personal tragedies for numerous families and villages. In response to this disaster which left American Samoa in ruins, President Obama was the first to promise full, swift and aggressive action to help American Samoa rebuild and recover. Our people are grateful to President Obama and the First Lady for their heartfelt support and we also appreciate the untiring efforts of the President's Cabinet Members, especially Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who made it possible for emergency relief supplies to be airlifted to our brothers and sisters in Western Samoa. A stopover in American Samoa by the President and his family at this time in the recovery process would go a long ways to show that under the Obama Administration's watch, residents of America will never suffer again like victims of Katrina did."

"The First Family's visit would also give special meaning to this year's Flag Day Celebration since, in April of this year, American Samoa will commemorate the 110th year of the raising of the US flag in American Samoa. No higher tribute could be paid to American Samoa's veterans - past, present and future - than for the Commander-in-Chief and especially this Commander-in-Chief who is the first ever Commander-in-Chief to be raised in Hawaii, to visit the islands of American Samoa and pay tribute to the sacrifices our people have made for this great nation of ours."

"I remain hopeful that President Obama will give serious consideration to this request, and, on behalf of the people of American Samoa, we look forward to welcoming him and the First Family should his schedule permit him to stopover or even refuel in American Samoa," Faleomavaega concluded.


February 19, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Faleomavaega nominates 20 young men and women from American Samoa to U.S. Military Service Academies

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he has nominated 20 young men and women from American Samoa to the prestigious United States Military Service Academies for the class entering in June, 2010.

"It has always been an honor for me to nominate students from American Samoa to the military service academies," Faleomavaega said. "During this nomination cycle, American Samoa had one slot each at the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy (West Point) and at the U.S. Naval Academy, for which I was permitted to nominate up to 10 candidates to each slot. This year, I also submitted 5 nominations to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

"I am proud of American Samoa's long tradition of supporting the defense of our nation. If accepted, the military academies offer incredible opportunities for these young men and women to continue this tradition while receiving a first-class four year education. I wish all of them every success in their pursuits of becoming officers in one of the branches of the military." Faleomavaega concluded.

The candidates who have been nominated are as follows:


February 4, 2010

Washington, D.C. -- Faleomavaega thanks Secretary Salazar for his commitment to help with ASPIRE

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he met with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar regarding ASPIRE during a meeting held by the Congressional Caucus on Asian Pacific Americans (CAPAC) on Wednesday, January 27, 2010.

"At my request, the Chairman of CAPAC, Congressman Mike Honda, agreed to include the ASPIRE bill as part of our Caucus agenda," Faleomavaega said. "In the course of our discussion, I informed Secretary Salazar that a Congressional hearing had already been held on ASPIRE and that OIA Director Nik Pula testified on behalf of the Obama Administration in support of the principles of ASPIRE, although there is agreement that modifications need to be made."

"Secretary Salazar understands that American Samoa is a single-industry economy entirely dependent on the tuna industry and that our last remaining tuna cannery can no longer compete against low-wage countries like Thailand that pay their workers $0.75 cents and less per hour to clean fish. Secretary Salazar said he would look into how the Department of the Interior can be supportive of our tuna issue, and I thanked him for his commitment."

"Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta accompanied Secretary Salazar to our CAPAC meeting and nine other Members of Congress were also present, including Congressman Honda, Congresswoman Bordallo, Congressman Bobby Scott, Congressman Joseph Cao, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, Congressman Sablan, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, and Congressman Al Green."

"As a follow-up to our CAPAC meeting, I also held a meeting in my office with OIA Director Nik Pula and Chairman Rahall's Committee staff, and we are aggressively working to find a solution that helps save the jobs of our cannery workers and that helps us rebuild after Chicken of the Sea/Samoa Packing closed down its operations in American Samoa without the courtesy of any discussion with our elected leaders."

"Again, I thank Secretary Salazar for his personal commitment and I also deeply appreciate the support of Chairman Nick Rahall of the Committee on Natural Resources. I look forward to our continued work together as we seek to do all that we can do for and on behalf of the people of American Samoa," Faleomavaega concluded.


January 25, 2010

Washington, D.C. -- Faleomavaega commends CBS 60 Minutes special feature on football in American Samoa

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that on 21, January 2010, he commended the CBS 60 Minutes program for its special feature called "American Samoa - Football Island." In a statement delivered during the Special Order proceedings of the House, Congressman Faleomavaega expounded on some of the challenges facing football programs in American Samoa.

"The CBS program highlighted that from an island of less than 70,000 people, there are more than 30 players of Samoan ancestry currently playing professional football in the National Football League and estimated more than 200 playing currently in Division I college football," Faleomavaega said.

"Indeed, it is estimated that a boy born to Samoan parents is 56 times more likely to get into the NFL than any other kid in the United States, period. This is an exceptional bit of information considering that the six high school programs in the Territory do not have locker rooms, no weight rooms for training, no proper equipment or other needed facilities and resources. In addition, most of these kids in American Samoa do not start playing organized football until they're in high school."

"For the first time this year, we have organized a Pop Warner football program. What is interesting about this is that a good number of these young Pop Warner players would be disqualified if they were playing in the U.S. for the simple reason that they were too big. I know this is true in the State of Hawaii where, in the Pop Warner program, many of these young Samoan football players had to organize their own "Big Boys" football program because they would be disqualified to play Pop Warner. I know this is true in the little towns of Hauula and Laie in the State of Hawaii."

"The fact that the Samoans have a high success rate of getting into the NFL is most interesting and can be attributed not only to the size of the people but to the values of our Samoan culture. From respect to discipline, one can appreciate that the young men and women of Samoan descent hold true these values with humility. I know that these are values welcomed by any coach in any sport."

"I want to acknowledge and recognize the Polynesian players who were fortunate to make it to this year's NFL Conference Championships. They were, with the Indianapolis Colts, Aaron Francisco and Fili Moala; with the New York Jets, Ropati Pitoitua, Sione Pouha and Wayne Hunter; and with the Minnesota Vikings, Naufahu Tahi. I want to personally congratulate them and their families for their success."

"The success of this new generation of football players is a result of the pathway paved by pioneers like Samoan football player Al Lolotai, who played for the Washington Redskins in 1945, Charley Ane of the Detroit Lions in 1953, Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson, Manu and his son Marques Tuiasosopo, Dan Saleaumua, Wilson Faumuina, Frank and his son Brandon Manumaleuna, Jesse Sapolu, Junior Seau, Troy Polamalu, Mosi and his son Lofa Tatupu, Domata Peko, Rey Maualuga, Jonathan Fanene, Joe Salave'a, Pita Elisara, Esera Tuaolo, Falaniko and his brother Al Noga, Junior Ah You, and many others."

"I am often asked why Samoan men have so much success on the football field. While there are many factors, I am reminded of the late Green Bay Packers' Coach Vince Lombardi when he said that 'football is like life. It requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and respect for authority.' This is very much part of the heart and soul of the Samoan culture which centers on the importance of families, sharing each other's needs, and respect for others," Faleomavaega concluded.


Washington, D.C. - Faleomavaega leads CODEL to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Japan

Congressman Eni Faleomavaega, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, led a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) from January 4- 12, 2010 to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Japan.

The Chairman, along with Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), member of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, and Congressman Joe Cao (R-LA), visited Southeast Asia for purposes of addressing U.S. foreign policy as it pertains to Agent Orange clean-up efforts in Vietnam, UXO clearance operations in Laos, the recycling or forgiveness of Cambodia's debt, the establishment of stronger trade ties, and the impact of climate change on the economies of these vulnerable societies. In Japan, the CODEL reviewed military cooperation and troop readiness, focusing on recent frictions over the Futenma base issue and other strains in the bilateral relationship.

In Vietnam, the Members held talks with H.E. Ngo Quang Xuan, Vice-Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam; H.E. Nguyen Thanh Son, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; and H.E. Pham Binh Minh, Standing Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. A round-table discussion was also held with Ambassador Michael Michalak and included representatives from Vietnam's coordinating agency for Agent Orange Issues and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. The Congressional delegation also visited Tu Du Hospital to extend their warmest wishes to the children who are being treated for dioxin exposure. Among other issues, the delegation discussed religious freedom and human rights, noting that the U.S. has a moral obligation to rectify the wrongs of Agent Orange for both Vietnamese and American victims.

In Cambodia, the delegation met with Prime Minister Hun Sen, Secertary of State Ouch Borith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh, Governor Sou Phirin of the Siem Reap Province, and World Heritage officials. Meetings focused on trade, debt forgiveness, the impact of climate change on Angkor Wat and efforts to capture benefits of the tourist economy for the poor of Siem Reap. Faleomavaega also attended the National Day celebration of the overthrow of the Pol Pot regime.

"In 2008, as part of my assignment as Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, it was my privilege to visit Cambodia," Faleomavaega said. "To this day, I cannot erase from my mind the images of Toul Sleng. Neither can I forget the killing fields where I saw massive graves of some 9,000 bodies buried one on top of the other, a sickening reminder that the Khmer Rouge had beaten to death or buried alive innocent people whose blood now cries up to God for justice that most assuredly will come."

"Knowing of Cambodia's suffering, I want to do everything I can to lend a helping hand and this is why I came back to Cambodia," Faleomavaega continued. "In February 2008, I held a hearing calling upon the previous Administration to support legislation which would make it possible for Cambodia's debt to be recycled or forgiven. Regrettably, the previous Administration did not act. However, based on my recent discussions with Cambodia's leaders and in close cooperation with Ambassador Hem Heng, we are working to bring this issue to the attention of the new Administration in hopes that this matter can be set right. We are also working in Congress to gain the support necessary for a favorable outcome, and I commend Congressman Jim McDermott and the House Committee on Ways and Means for the work they are doing to improve trade relations and level the playing field for Cambodia. I also commend our U.S. Charge d'Affaires, Theodore Allegra, for the outstanding work he is doing to promote better relations between the U.S. and Cambodia. Cambodia could have no better friend and the U.S. could have no better representative than Mr. Allegra. He is the kind of diplomat our country can be proud of and I appreciate all he did to make our visit successful."

In Laos, the delegation met with H.E. Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs; H.E. Dr. Xaysomphone Phomvihane, Vice President of the National Assembly and Chairman of Foreign Relations Commission; and other parliamentary members. Members of the delegation also visited the Hmong Refugee Resettlement Camp in Ban Pha Lak, the first delegation to visit since resettlement occurred. In addition to expressing serious concerns about the Hmong resettlement, the delegation also discussed UXO clearance operations and committed to assisting Laos in this effort.

In Japan, the delegation held discussions on U.S.-Japan relations with some of the country's key leaders. The Members visited Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama at his residence and held talks with Cabinet Minister Mizuho Fukushima, who serves as Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety, Social Affairs and Gender Equality, as well as Rep. Tomoko Abe, a member of the Social Democratic Party, the second largest party in the ruling coalition. In addition, the group met Koichi Takemasa, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"On behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank our U.S. Ambassadors and Embassy personnel for their assistance. While it was regrettable that our U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos was unavailable to meet us upon our Sunday arrival, we were appreciative that the Prime Minister was able to work us into his Sunday schedule. We also express our appreciation to U.S. Ambassadors Michalak, Huso and Charge d'Affaires Theodore Allegra of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, respectively, and their staff, for their assistance and insights."

"Above all, I want to thank His Excellency Le Cong Phung of Vietnam, His Excellency Hem Heng of Cambodia, and His Excellency Phiane Philakone and the gracious leaders of Southeast Asia who made this historic CODEL possible. This CODEL was unique in that it was the first Congressional Delegation comprised entirely of Members of Congress whose roots are from the Asia Pacific region. I can assure the leaders of Southeast Asia that, as a result of this historic CODEL, it is our intention to do all we can to improve and strengthen relations with Southeast Asia and I will be holding oversight hearings on these matters in the near future," Faleomavaega concluded


Washington, D.C. - Faleomavaega meets Japanese Prime Minister to discuss US-Japan relations, base issues

The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, along with Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) and Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), visited Japan last week to hold discussions on U.S.-Japan relations with some of the country’s key leaders. The Members visited Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama at his residence and held talks with Cabinet Minister Mizuho Fukushima, who serves as Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety, Social Affairs and Gender Equality, as well as with Rep. Tomoko Abe, a member of the Social Democratic Party, the second largest party in the ruling coalition. In addition, the group met Koichi Takemasa, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Much of the discussion in the meetings focused on alliance relations, including the planned relocation of a significant portion of American troops on Okinawa’s main island to a new base on that island, as well as to Guam. Faleomavaega and Cao also visited Hiroshima to view ground zero of the 1945 nuclear bombing of the city and the adjacent Peace Museum.

"Prime Minister Hatoyama's government represents the first significant change in Japanese politics since the early 1990s. Our two countries share a close economic, political and security relationship, and 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, which has helped provide stability throughout the Asia Pacific region. Despite certain disagreements about basing issues, I believe that the bilateral relationship remains vibrant and strong. My visit to Hiroshima, meanwhile, reaffirmed my commitment to helping realize the ultimate goal of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT): a world finally free of the scourge of nuclear weapons," Faleomavaega said.

"In 2006, the United States and Japan agreed on a 'roadmap' to strengthen the bilateral alliance. In the aftermath of last year's electoral victory by the Democratic Party of Japan, the new Hatoyama Administration called for changes in the agreement regarding the planned relocation of the Futenma Marine Air Station, currently in Ginowan, Okinawa, to a less densely populated location on the main island. The move from Futenma was to be the first part of a planned realignment of U.S. forces in Asia, designed in part to reduce the footprint of U.S. forces on Okinawa by redeploying U.S. Marines to new facilities in Guam," Faleomavaega added.

"The goal has been to start construction on Guam by 2010 and to complete the relocation of 8,000 marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam by 2014. On February 17, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Tokyo to reaffirm the plan with the previous Liberal Democratic Party-led government by signing the bilateral 'Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Japan Concerning the Implementation of the Relocation of the III Marine Expeditionary Force Personnel and Their Dependents from Okinawa to Guam.' That agreement stipulated that of the estimated $10.3 billion cost of the facilities and infrastructure development for the relocation to Guam, Japan would provide $6.09 billion, including up to $2.8 billion in direct cash contributions (in FY2008 dollars). The United States committed to fund $3.2 billion plus about $1 billion for road construction. The relocation to Guam has important economic, social and environmental implications for Guam, as well as for those from the region seeking jobs created by the construction, operation and maintenance of the planned facilities."

"Last week, in a meeting held in Hawaii between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the new Japanese Government's Foreign Minister, Katsuya Okada, the two sides agreed to shelve the Futenma issue until May and start talks on deepening the bilateral alliance. On January 19, 2010, the day marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Security Treaty, the Japanese and U.S. governments released a joint statement proclaiming that 'the U.S.-Japan Alliance plays an indispensable role in ensuring the security and prosperity of both the United States and Japan, as well as regional peace and stability. The Alliance is rooted in our shared values, democratic ideals, respect for human rights, rule of law and common interests. The Alliance has served as the foundation of our security and prosperity for the past half century and the Ministers are committed to ensuring that it continues to be effective in meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century.' The joint statement also notes that the two countries 'endorse ongoing efforts to maintain our deterrent capabilities in a changing strategic landscape, including appropriate stationing of U.S. forces, while reducing the impact of bases on local communities, including Okinawa.'"

"On the same day, Prime Minister Hatoyama issued an additional statement noting that, 'The U.S.-Japan security arrangements continue to be indispensable not only for the defense of Japan alone, but also for the peace and prosperity of the entire Asia-Pacific region. Under a security environment in which there still exist uncertainty and unpredictability, the presence of the U.S. Forces based on the Treaty will continue to function as a public good by creating a strong sense of security to the countries in the region.'"

"As Chairman of the Subcommittee with jurisdiction over U.S.-Japan relations, I will be following developments affecting the bilateral relationship closely, including basing issues affecting Okinawa and Guam , and will hold an oversight hearing on these matters in the near future," Faleomavaega concluded.


Why are Samoans flocking to the NFL? Watch "60 Minutes" Sunday, 17 January (8-9 PM EST/PT)

Why do more NFL Players come from a tiny group of South Pacific Islands that from any other place in America? "60 Minutes" Finds out - Sunday on CBS New York

60 MINUTES goes to American Samoa to find out how a territory with a population less than the capacity of a pro-football stadium sends more players to the NFL than any similarly populated place in America . In fact, boys born to Samoan parents are estimated to be 56 times more likely to play in the NFL than other Americans, reports Scott Pelley in his story to be broadcast Sunday, Jan. 17 (8-9 p.m., ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

The Samoan people tend to be on the larger side and the islands' six high schools have sent 10 linemen to the NFL in the last five years. One of those 10 NFL linemen who played Samoan high school ball is the Cincinnati Bengals' Domata Peko, who says Samoans' speed plays a role as well. "The combination of size and ability and speed, that's kind of hard to find. Big dudes who can have nimble feet and are able to run and go sideline to sideline," says Peko. Peko's teammate, another Samoan named Jonathan Fanene, is a defensive end who proves Peko's point with his six sacks and a touchdown this season. Says Fanene, "With the talent that we have, we have to take pride of it, especially when you have the opportunity to come to the mainland."

Fanene's little, well, not so little, brother, 17-yr.-old Aiulua, is poised to follow in Jonathan's footsteps. At 6-5 and 280lbs., he's considering offers from Arizona University and Oregon State. Like many other Samoans, he does a day's worth of chores before school starts. His father, David, thinks the discipline has a lot to do with his kids' football success. "That's how he's been brought up. Discipline. Obedience should be involved in this house and I am expecting our children to obey us," Fanene tells Pelley.

Jonathan Fanene built his family a palatial home in Samoa with the seven-figure salary his NFL career affords him.

Perhaps the most famous Samoan in the NFL, Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu - born in the U.S. to Samoan parents - says the island is lucky to have the option of football. Beyond a career in the NFL, Samoans have little opportunity beyond the military or work in a tuna canning industry based there that is threatening to pull out soon. "The beautiful thing about football is it's allowed us to get into education," says Polamalu. "Football is something that comes naturally to us," he tells Pelley.

There are currently more than 30 Samoans in the NFL and another 200-plus playing Division 1 college football. There are just 65,000 people living on the islands. “What if there were 120 million Samoans," wonders Polamalu. "How many Samoans would there then be in the NFL?"


January 13, 2010

Washington, D.C. -- Faleomavaega congratulates Reverend Tialavea on historic occasion - offering prayer to open the U.S. House session

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that Reverend Samuel "Sam" Tikeri Tialavea, Sr., the General Secretary of the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa (CCCAS), was the Guest Chaplain of the House of Representatives who offered the opening prayer to begin today’s regular session of the Congress.

While the Chaplain of the House of Representatives, The Reverend Daniel P. Coughlin, stood close by, Rev. Tialavea spoke in both his native Samoan language and in English offering the following prayer.

"Talofa lava. Tatou tatalo. Le Atua mamalu. Le Atua paia. Le Atua e o le viiga. Silasila maia i le faamoemoe o le nei aso ma ia e faamanuia mai."

"God of the faith of our fathers and Lord of our homage, we embrace you and one another in heart and soul, thought and mind giving you praise and trusting your faithfulness.  Bless this day and our activity in your service.

"O Lord, help us to remember that proclamation from ages past, "where there is no vision, people perish.

"Enable us, therefore, to be visionary in our decision-making, particularly with those resolved in your wisdom by the leadership of our nation.  Grant this Congress the ability to see, the faith to believe and the courage to leap forward in their journey of determination for tranquility and peace, upholding those virtues by which all may benefit from, in our "home of the brave and land of the free.

"God of the Most High, may your will be done, your vision be known, and your righteousness prevail, both now and forever. Amen."

In the tradition of the Congress, Faleomavaega, as the Representative of the District in which the Guest Chaplain resides, delivered the one-minute opening speech to welcome Rev. Tialavea to the House of Representatives.

"Madam Speaker. It is my great honor and pleasure to welcome Reverend Samuel Tikeri Tialavea, Sr. to the Chamber today. Reverend Tialavea or "Sam" as he is popularly known in our Samoan community is from my District - American Samoa."

"Rev. Tialavea is currently the General Secretary of the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa (CCCAS) - a position he has held since 2002. He was appointed Secretariat of the Partnership Consultation Committee on Ministry and Mission o f the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the CCCAS, a post he has also held since 2002. Rev. Tialavea was ordained in the mid 1990's where he became pastor of the Bread of Life Church in Honolulu, Hawaii prior to his election as the General Secretary of the CCCAS. He is also the Chairman of the American Samoa Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster that was reestablished soon after the earthquake and tsunamis that impacted American Samoa in September 29, 2009.

"This is a historic day for American Samoa. To my knowledge, Reverend Tialavea is the first ever Samoan to give the opening prayer to begin a regular House Congressional Session.

"I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge Reverend Tialavea's lovely wife - Fa'aipoipoga who is present with us in the Gallery. Also, with her to witness this momentous occasion are Rev. Elder Leatulagi Faalevao who is Vice Chairman of the CCCAS and his wife Vagai, and Rev. Reupena Alo who is Assistant to the General Secretary of the CCCAS and his wife Deanne.

"It is my distinct honor and privilege again to welcome to the House today my good friend, Reverend Sam Tikeri Tialavea, Sr."

Reverend Tialavea and his guests were later hosted by Congressman Faleomavaega to a luncheon in the Members Dining Room and were provided a tour of the U.S. Capitol and other historical landmarks around Washington, DC.

January 8, 2010


Washington, D.C. - Faleomavaega welcomes Secretary Clinton's visit to Pacific Region but expresses dissappointment

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that while he welcomes news that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit the Pacific region from January 11-19, he is very disappointed that some 15 Pacific Island nations are being ignored and marginalized once again.

During her first visit to the Pacific region, Secretary Clinton will visit Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. She will also deliver a speech in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Secretary is not scheduled to visit any other Pacific Island nations.

"For years, I have been outspoken about U.S. foreign policy towards the Pacific region because the only real foreign policy that the U.S. has with the Pacific is with New Zealand and Australia," Faleomavaega said. "My point is underscored by the fact that Secretary Clinton will be meeting with Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea while excluding some 15 Pacific Island leaders who could have gathered in one location to meet her."

"However, in fairness to Secretary Clinton, this is nothing new. The Bush and Clinton administrations also disregarded the needs and concerns of Pacific Island nations, as have most U.S. administrations."

"But, considering that President Obama was born and raised in Hawaii and understands the challenges and needs of the community, I thought these small island nations, however small, would finally be given the time, consideration and respect they deserve."

"I am truly disappointed that President Obama, whom I supported and endorsed from the beginning of his presidential campaign, did not weigh in upon learning that Secretary Clinton's first visit to the Pacific region excluded all Pacific Island nations except Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. At a minimum, the President or the Secretary could have easily called for a summit of Foreign Ministers from the island nations to meet in Samoa, Hawaii, or even New Zealand. That this was not done shows a lack of sensitivity for the region and sends a message that some 15 Pacific Island nations are not an important or integral part of our U.S. foreign policy objectives."

"This is the wrong message to send," Faleomavaega said. "The U.S. cannot afford to take for granted the sacrifices Pacific Island nations have made on our behalf. While New Zealand refuses entry to U.S. nuclear ships, many Pacific Island nations fought side by side with the U.S. throughout WWII."

"The U.S. also used the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) as a nuclear testing ground, exploding more than 67 nuclear bombs, including the first hydrogen bomb ever detonated. Although the U.S. has not fully compensated the RMI for the damage we did and the contamination we left behind, the RMI is still our ally."

"But how long will it be before Pacific Island nations begin to reconsider their relationship with the U.S.? China, Taiwan and Iran are increasing their presence in the region while the U.S. cannot even bother to re-establish USAID presence. Given that most Pacific Island nations continue to support U.S. interests at home, abroad, and in the United Nations, it is my hope that the U.S. will return the favor and support the Pacific Island community."

"China takes the time to meet with Heads of State from small Pacific Island nations and the U.S. should do the same because it is no longer enough to continually fly-over the region. Pacific Island nations deserve something better than fly-by diplomacy."

"While it is very doubtful that Secretary Clinton can adjust her schedule at this late date, at the very least she can make it a top priority to meet in the near future with the some 15 Pacific Island leaders she is excluding on her first trip to the Pacific region. Such a meeting would be a step in the right direction after more than 50 years of U.S. neglect," Faleomavaega concluded.


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