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Funding gap appropriation bill passes with two amendments

Rendering of the proposed new fono building.

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Following the Fono’s Conference Committee, both the Senate and House gave final approval yesterday to the House version of an Administration’s bill, enacting a temporary funding gap appropriation for the government, with two amendments made to the original language of the bill.

The House version of the bill has been enrolled and transmitted to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga for his review and consideration; and the special session called to review it, is now closed.

The bill provides consolidated appropriations and temporary funding to continue government operations until action on regular appropriations are completed. Further, the bill allows for continuing appropriations and prevents a “funding gap and corresponding government shutdown” for the fiscal year 2021.

The legislation states in part that, appropriations and funds made available and authority granted pursuant to this Act, shall be available until whichever of the following occurs first:

•     the enactment into law of the applicable appropriations Act for fiscal year 2021

•     expiration of a 60-day term following the effective date of this Act.

The Fono approved the House version of the bill which was  amended to show “60-day term” and the second amendment was made to the bill’s preamble that the Fono did in fact pass the FY 2021 budget bill and sent it to the governor for review and consideration.

Prior to the conference committee, the Senate during it’s session yesterday passed in third and final reading the Senate version of the bill with one amendment — changing the bill’s preamble to reflect that the Fono did in fact pass the fiscal year 2021 budget bill and sent it to the Governor for his review and consideration.

The Senate also acted on the House version of the bill, in which House members made two amendments — that the Fono had passed the FY 2021 budget bill and the second one is that the temporary funding gap time frame is 60-days instead of the original 30-days.

The Senate amended the House bill to reflect the 30-day term — as originally proposed by the Administration, to mirror the Senate version.

With the two measures unanimously approved by senators, the Senate agreed to immediately send communication to the House of the action taken, and that the Senate was waiting for the House response, particularly if faipule disagree with amendments made by senators to the House version of the bill.

Additionally, the Senate was prepared for a conference committee to iron out the final language of the bill.

The Senate took a recess and waited for a response from the House, which agreed to the conference committee of both chambers, that was then carried out yesterday at the Senate chambers.

The Conference Committee’s report and decision was to change the 30-day time frame to 60-days. The second change that was kept is that the Fono passed the FY 2021 budget bill.

When the Senate reconvened following the conference committee, senators endorsed the 60-day timeframe and closed out the current special session. The House took similar action.