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Act to delay minimum wage hike set for U.S. House

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni announced Friday that he met Tuesday with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and asked for his support to schedule for floor action S. 2009 - the Insular Area Act of 2011 - which includes “a provision to delay minimum wage increases in American Samoa until 2015.” The next wage hike is set for Sept. 30, 2012.

Faleomavaega also asked for and received support of House Speaker John Boehner, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.  The minimum wage bill is now scheduled to be on the US House floor Tuesday, July 17.

The bill was introduced in the US Senate by Sen. Jeff Bingaman and the “provision regarding minimum wage was worked out in advance with my office as well as the Senate HELP Committee, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the House Committee on Natural Resources,” said Faleomavaega in a news release late Friday afternoon.

“While we were hopeful that the bill could be placed on the calendar after Congress returned from the Christmas recess, in January 2012, the Office of Insular Affairs unwittingly halted the advancement of the bill due to concerns it raised about a provision related to the monitoring of Runit Island,” he said. “After overcoming OIA’s concerns and explaining how important delaying further minimum wage increases is to American Samoa’s economy, OIA is now fully on board.”

“But given these setbacks, Speaker Boehner’s office subsequently requested that we formalize the commitment of the Chairmen of the Committees of jurisdiction and, as of late March 2012, we completed this request when each of the Chairmen wrote to Speaker Boehner.”

 “This week, I personally met with Majority Leader Cantor and presented our case, and he agreed that with the support of Speaker Boehner, Democratic Leader Pelosi and Democratic Whip Hoyer that he would schedule the bill for consideration.  Now that the bill has been publicly placed on the House calendar for next Tuesday, I am pleased to finally announce the progress we have made.  I felt like a public announcement any sooner could have jeopardized our efforts and this is why I have remained silent amid the speculation,” he said.

“Even now, it’s not over until it’s over.  On Tuesday, the bill will be on the House floor and, during this critical time, I am asking for your support and prayers.  After the vote, I will update the people of American Samoa regarding the outcome of our efforts.  Once more, I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for their help. I also express my appreciation to StarKist for standing with us and I look forward to their presence in the Territory for years to come,” Faleomavaega said.

He thanked Bingaman for his leadership in getting S. 2009 passed by the Senate “by unanimous consent” last December and referred to the House on the same day.

However, because the bill included other provisions not related to minimum wage, it was  referred to three different House Committees including Education and the Workforce, the Judiciary, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs which has primary jurisdiction over the bill, he explained.

“With three different committees sharing jurisdiction, the bill could not move forward unless the committees agreed to be discharged from consideration of S. 2009,” he said and personally thanked Chairman John Kline and Ranking Member George Miller of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member John Conyers of the Judiciary Committee, and Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ranking Member Howard Berman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs “for quickly agreeing to my request to waive consideration in order to expedite the bill’s consideration on the House floor.”

“Although S. 2009 was not referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, I also want to thank Chairman Doc Hastings and Ranking Member Ed Markey for their support,” he added.