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Increasing The Waiver Requirement For Certain Local Matching Requirements To American Samoa, Guam, The Virgin Islands, Or The Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands

Rep. Mark Souder

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Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 1189) to increase the waiver requirement for certain local matching requirements for grants provided to American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and for other purposes.

The Clerk read as follows:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

(a) Waiver of Certain Matching Requirements.--Section 501 of the Act entitled ``An Act to authorize certain appropriations for the territories of the United States, to amend certain Acts relating thereto, and for other purposes'', approved October 15, 1977 (48 U.S.C. 1469a; 91 Stat. 1164) is amended-- (1) in the last sentence of subsection (d), by striking ``by law''; and (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection: ``(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the case of American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, each department or agency of the United States shall waive any requirement for local matching funds (including in-kind contributions) that the insular area would otherwise be required to provide for any grant as follows: ``(1) For a grant requiring matching funds (including in- kind contributions) of $500,000 or less, the entire matching requirement shall be waived. ``(2) For a grant requiring matching funds (including in- kind contributions) of more than $500,000, $500,000 of the matching requirement shall be waived.''. (b) Conforming Amendment.--Section 601 of the Act entitled ``An Act to authorize appropriations for certain insular areas of the United States, and for other purposes'', approved March 12, 1980 (48 U.S.C. 1469a note; 94 Stat. 90), is amended by striking ``, and adding the following sentence'' and all that follows through ``Islands.' ''. (c) Study.--Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall complete and submit to the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate the results of a study of the implementation of the amendments made by subsection (a).

Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) and the gentleman from American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder).

Rep. Mark Souder

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Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.

Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Indiana?

There was no objection.

Rep. Mark Souder

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Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1189 which was introduced by my friend and colleague, the gentleman from American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega), is important as a component of the larger interest in encouraging economic development in the territories.

I would like to add, earlier the gentleman from American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega) talked about his many friends in Arizona. A few years ago I was fortunate to travel with the gentleman and Speaker Hastert around the Middle East and other countries. Everywhere we went we met Samoans. They all knew who he was. He has friends around the world in multiple continents. I can verify to that, as can the Speaker, not just in Arizona and his home area. Samoans were everywhere. I very much appreciate that.

Many Americans do not realize the role that our committee plays with this. This is a very important bill to the territories. H.R. 1189 increases the waiver for certain local matching requirements for all United States territories. Currently, Federal law allows Federal agencies or departments to waive the first $200,000 in matching requirements to the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. This legislation will increase that amount to $500,000. Further, for a grant requiring matching funds of more than $500,000 the legislation waives the first $500,000 of the matching requirement.

It is important to note that H.R. 1189 will also end the inconsistent manner in which current law is applied to the matching waiver. With this bill, the waiver will apply to all Federal agencies and departments making grants to the U.S. territories, not just the Department of Interior.

The bill of the gentleman from American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega) closely resembles legislation introduced by Delegate Underwood in the 107th Congress which was also reported with strong bipartisan support by the Committee on Resources. It is clear that while territorial economies, in general, have improved over the last several years, each government continues to be challenged with rising unemployment, decreased government revenues, and limited new capital for diversification. Passage of this legislation today and its eventual enactment will truly broaden the U.S. Territories' access to Federal grants which should help to grow their unique economies.

I commend the gentleman from American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega) for working with this committee and others to ensure this legislation moves forward. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1189.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Del. Eni F. H. Faleomavaega

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Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

(Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Del. Eni F. H. Faleomavaega

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Mr. Speaker, I rise to support H.R. 1189, a bill to assist our insular territories by waiving matching requirements at a certain Federal level for Federal grant programs. I would like to thank the gentleman from California (Chairman Pombo) and the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. Rahall) of the Committee on Resources for their continued support regarding the needs of our island territories and for their help in bringing this legislation to the floor today.

I would also be mindful in expressing my appreciation to the support and cosponsorship of the gentlewoman from Guam (Ms. Bordallo) and the gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands (Mrs. Christensen) and my good friend, the Resident Commissioner, the gentleman from Puerto Rico (Mr. Acevedo-Vila) for their support.

H.R. 1189 is a bill that would increase the waiver requirement for certain local matching requirements for grants provided for the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Mr. Speaker, Congress first enacted a matching waiver requirement for the territories in 1980, recognizing the difficulty of territorial governments to access Federal grant money that required matching as the basis of a funding. At that time the waiver was set at $100,000 for American Samoa and the CNMI. And later in 1983 and 1984 the law was amended to increase the requirements to $200,000 and was simultaneously added to the territories of the Guam and Virgin Islands for eligibility. It has now been 20 years since the law has been revisited, and the current waiver of $200,000 has been proven to be inadequate to meet the needs of these insular areas. Mr. Speaker, our territorial governments continue to be challenged with rising unemployment, decreased government revenues, and impediments to attracting new capital for diversification. The insular areas simply do not have the financial resources to meet the matching fund requirements required by Federal law. Consequently, we are often unable to apply for the Federal grants that we need to address critical issues like health, education, and economic development. H.R. 1189 would alleviate these difficulties by increasing the waiver requirement to $500,000.

Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1189 the would also direct the Secretary of the Interior to complete and to submit to the House Committee on Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources the results of a study of the implementation to the changes to the matching requirement made through this legislation. While it is clear that more comprehensive legislation is needed to bring about sustainable economic growth and relief for the insular areas, I believe this legislation will alleviate some of the economic difficulties we are facing.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues, the gentlewoman from Guam (Ms. Bordallo), the gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands (Mrs. Christensen), the gentleman from Puerto Rico (Mr. Acevedo-Vila) for expressing their support. Again, I express my appreciation to the gentleman from California (Mr. Pombo) and the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. Rahall) and the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder). I want to let the gentleman from Indiana know that I did not forget that trip that we took to the Middle East. Yes, in fact, just about every military installation that we visited with the then chairman of the International Security Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Reform, the gentleman from Illinois, whose name was Mr. Hastert, who is now the Honorable Speaker of the House, from which I really enjoyed meeting not only with our soldiers and our troops in that opportunity that we had.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I thank my good friend, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) for his assistance in managing this proposed bill. I urge my colleagues to support this proposed legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

Rep. Mark Souder

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Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to close, as someone who comes from the heartland of the United States, I know many of my constituents and others say, ``We still have territories?'' And then, ``Why are we doing grants to these territories?'' As my friend, the gentleman from American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega) has just pointed out, when you go through our Armed Services anywhere around the world, they are among the most active and volunteering for our militaries in these different territories, the bases that we have in these places, the beautiful natural resources, are very important to our survival as a country. They pay taxes. They support our Nation. This brings equity to them in the grant structure. And we can, in this time of international pressure, all of a sudden appreciate more American Samoa, Hawaii, Mariana Islands, Guam, are right out there where we need them to be. And we are very supportive of these territories. This bill goes a long way towards saying thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 1189.

The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor thereof) the rules were suspended and the bill was passed.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.