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Senate and House pass funding authorization and close Special Session

Rendering of the proposed new fono building.

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — After approving yesterday morning the House version of an administration request authorizing continued funding of American Samoa Government operations at levels provided in FY 2020 budget law, the Senate returned the measure back to the House and closed the Special Session.

Meanwhile, ASG returns to full operations today, following a one-day “holiday/ partial government shutdown” yesterday, except for acting directors and employees of the Department of Public Safety, Heath Department and LBJ Medical Center, along with Emergency Medical Service (EMS).

Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga didn’t indicate in his Jan. 3, 2021 memorandum the reason for yesterday’s holiday, but it resulted in the cancellation of all public schools and some private schools. (See Samoa News online yesterday for details on the holiday/ partial ASG shutdown.)

Some lawmakers believe this action by the governor is related to the funding-gap measure which is now approved by the Fono. There was no official statement from the Governor’s Office — at press time — for the reason behind the one-day partial government shutdown, with both the Judicial and Legislative branches still operating. 


Both the Senate and House convened yesterday morning in their respective chambers for day-two of the five-day special session called by Lemanu to address funding for continued ASG operations for the current fiscal year.

In the Senate, the House Concurrent Resolution authorizing continued ASG operations under FY 2020 funding levels was introduced in the Senate, where Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean pointed out that this is the measure which senators had waited for on Sunday — day-one of the special session.

Sen. Togiola T.A Tulafono moved to approve the measure without any changes and it was unanimously passed.

Tuaolo then directed the Secretary of the Senate to transmit a communiqué to the House about passage of their resolution and that the special session is now closed.

Upon receiving the Senate communication, the House also agreed and closed the special session.

Leaders of both the Senate and House informed lawmakers yesterday that the Fono convenes next week Monday, Jan. 11th for the official opening of the first-regular session of the 37th Legislature.

Lawmakers will be informed later this week of the time and venue in which Lemanu will deliver his first State of the Territory Address in a joint Fono session.

There was a question raised in the Senate on standing committees, and Tuaolo responded that the committees’ make-up will be released soon to senators.