Ads by Google Ads by Google

What you and American Samoa could receive from the COVID-19 Relief bill

Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata
Passage of the latest stimulus in jeopardy as Pres. Trump threatens veto

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — According to Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata, the the COVID-19 Relief and Economic Aid bill passed by the House contains priorities that she has sought for American Samoa — part of major year-end government funding, health care and economic assistance legislation.

It has since been passed also by the Senate, and now is at the White House to be signed by President Donald Trump, who according to national media is signaling he has problems with the legislation and may not sign it without modifications.

Trump complained in a video that he tweeted out Tuesday night that the bill delivered too much money to foreign countries, but not enough to Americans, saying he is asking Congress to amend the bill and “increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple. I am also asking Congress to get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill.”

If signed by the president, the congresswoman explained how the legislation would assist American Samoa and citizens of the territory.

 “People can expect $600 [each] assistance payments for adults and dependents with qualifications much like the last one for U.S Nationals and Citizens,” Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata told Samoa News about the legislation.

“ASG Operations will be increased for the fourth straight year.

“PPP assistance will start again with options for second loans, simplified loan forgiveness, and to seek EIDL advances. These small business programs already put over $24 million into our local economy this year.

“Our fishing and cannery jobs are more secure with a one year extension of our economic development tax credit.

“The bill sets aside billions to get the vaccine everywhere it needs to go, with assistance for our Territory.

“Finally, the bill includes the much-deserved 3 percent pay increase for our Armed Forces,” she said.

The Uifaatali Amata requested direct increase for ASG Operations of $500,000 is $3 million above the Interior Department proposed budget. These four straight yearly increases total about $2 million in direct increases, in addition to each year restoring millions in requested budget cuts by Interior.

Notably, the bill puts $20 billion into making vaccines, another $8 billion to ship and distribute them, and $20 billion for testing in states and territories. 

The bill, as passed by the House, includes these key local objectives: 

•  A direct increase of $500,000 for ASG Operations as she requested, restoring $3 million over the Interior Department plan; 

• Renewal of the successful small business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) with improvements on loan forgiveness; 

• $600 direct payments for individuals and their dependents; 

• Funding for vaccine production, distribution and testing that will aid the Territory; 

• Extending the American Samoa Economic Development Credit that preserves local cannery and fishing jobs;

• A three percent pay raise for the U.S. military.

• $20 billion nationally to restart the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advances.

• Incorporates Amata co-led PPE Act provisions to allow businesses to use Paycheck Protection Program loan money to cover expenses of providing personal protective equipment to their employees.

Other aspects of the bill that could benefit American Samoa include these measures:

• Funding for schools nationally through $82 billion to the Education Stabilization Fund.

• $45 billion nationally for transportation, including airports.

• Medical billing reform, including stopping surprise billing and providing for independent arbitration.

• Broadband support for programs to underserved areas.

Uifaatali Amata also welcomes the extension of Medicaid availability to people living in the United States from Palau, Marshall Islands, and Micronesia. 

(Source: Media release of Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata Office — Washington D.C.)