Confirmation hearings begin today
Following a two-week mid session recess, the Fono reconvened yesterday, with a letter from Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga requesting early confirmation hearings for eight acting directors, who will be accompanying him to meetings in Washington D.C. next month.
Lolo first made known his request to the Fono, during his cabinet meeting last Friday, saying that he will be leaving the territory on Feb. 10 heading to Washington D.C. for meetings, including the National Governor’s Association conference. He said about 8 cabinet directors will be traveling with him and he is asking the Fono to “take an immediate review and confirmation” of these cabinet directors — who were not identified by name.
However, in his Jan. 25 letter to the Fono leaders asking for early confirmation, the governor identified them as acting Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale; Port Administration acting director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele; acting Treasurer Ueligitone Tonumaipea; Education acting director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga; Budget and Planning Office, acting director Catherine Saelua; acting Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson; Commerce Department acting director Keniseli Lafaele; and Marine and Wildlife acting director Va’amua Henry Sesepasara.
“With the inception of the Trump Administration, and the sample of policy changes which have already been executed impels our participation in the intergovernmental group on Insular Affairs meeting, the fisheries meeting and the National Governors Association meeting,” said Lolo in his letter received yesterday by the Fono.
“It is crucial that we clearly articulate our needs and the challenges thwarting our efforts to grow our economy and to improve the lives of our people to the new [Trump] administration,” the governor said.
Lolo then requested the Fono leadership “to please expedite the confirmation” of cabinet members traveling with him, given the need for their presence at the meetings as issues pertaining to their administrative purview will be discussed.
In closing, Lolo said he has issued instructions to all directors that no one is to leave the island until confirmations have been completed.
During yesterday’s session, nomination of six cabinet directors were introduced in both the Senate and House and referred to the respective committees for confirmation hearings.
CONFIRMATION HEARING SCHEDULE
Matagi-Tofiga: The House Education Committee will hold the confirmation hearing at 8:30a.m today, while her confirmation hearing with the Senate Education Committee is set for 8:30a.m on Feb. 6th.
Tonumaipea: The confirmation hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee is set for 11a.m. today, while he appears Thursday this week before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee at 8:30a.m.
Talauega: He is scheduled to appear at 1p.m. today for his confirmation hearing with the House Judiciary Committee and tomorrow (Wednesday) at 8:30a.m. before the Senate Government Operations Committee.
Lafaele: Appears tomorrow (Wednesday) at 8:30a.m before the House Commerce Committee, while the Senate has yet to schedule a confirmation hearing for him.
Saelua: She is scheduled for 11a.m. tomorrow before the House Budget and Appropriation Committee, while a hearing in the Senate is not yet scheduled.
Taimalelagi: At 1p.m., the House Port and Airport Committee will hold her confirmation hearing, while no hearing is set yet in the Senate.
More director-nominees are expected to be introduced today and the rest of this week in both the Senate and House.
At last Friday’s cabinet meeting, Lolo said confirmation hearings for director-appointees would start this week.
“We hope you spent time to think about it, prepare to answer some of the serious questions,” Lolo told director-nominees. “And I have no doubt that all of you will be confirmed by the Legislature.”
“So give them a positive attitude. Tell them you are ready and prepared to take over the leadership in that department,” he added.