With Time Running Out, Amata Calls Audible… Scores Touchdown for Fishing Industry

December 12, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. –Saturday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata, in the final seconds of the 114th Congress passed her fishing bill, the Ensuring Access to Pacific Fisheries Act, which helps to ensure that the U.S fishing industry will have better access to fisheries in international waters and stronger representation in regional fisheries councils during international negotiations by the North and South Pacific Commissions. Most significantly for the local fishing community in American Samoa, the bill amends the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act, to minimize disadvantage and maximize opportunities for American Samoa’s fishing fleets, especially those targeting migratory tuna stocks in the Pacific.

amata and young
Congresswoman Amata and Congressman Don Young of Alaska in the U.S. Capitol

“What an amazing day for our local fishing industry,” stated Amata.  “This bill is the result of hard work, negotiations, and more hard work that my staff and I have worked on in conjunction with local industry, and both House and Senate Committees of jurisdiction for nearly two years.  I am more than pleased to see it sent to the President for his signature,” continued Amata.

The road to the President’s desk was a long and hard fought battle that literally came down to the final seconds of the 114th Congress.  After getting the bill through the House, and on to the Senate earlier this year, the negotiations continued in the Senate committees until just last month, when final language was agreed upon.  That bill, H.R. 4576 was in the process of being hot-lined through the Senate when Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)  using his power as a Senator placed a hold on all bills that were awaiting passage in that body, due to an issue he was trying to resolve for the coal miners pension program, which was set to expire.

Because of Senator Manchin’s hold, it meant all of those bills that were awaiting passage from the Senate were now dead, due to the House adjourning on Thursday, and would have had to be reintroduced in the 115th Congress, and the process started all over.

“We worked way too hard to let that happen,” said Amata.  “I was determined to do whatever it took to get the measure through and signed into law this Congress,” continued Amata.

Like an NFL Quarterback running a two minute offense, with time expiring, and a steel wall defense facing her, Congresswoman Amata called an audible at the line…The Congresswoman took the language that had been agreed upon by all invested parties, and re-introduced it in the House on Wednesday evening, giving it a new bill number- H.R. 6452.  She then was able to get all committees of jurisdiction to approve the bill, and it passed by Unanimous Consent just as the House adjourned for the 114th Congress on Thursday afternoon.  H.R. 6452 was then sent to the Senate were it passed “en bloc” early Saturday morning, just as the Senate was adjourning.  The bill will now be sent to the President for his signature.

“What an incredible journey it was to get this measure that is so very important to American Samoa and our local fishing industry through Congress and on to the President’s desk,” said Amata.  “I want to thank my colleague Don Young (AK), committee leadership, their staff; our local leaders in industry and government including the Governor and his Fisheries Task Force; as well as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise for their efforts in helping us get this crucial bill passed…and most importantly, I want to thank our cannery workers who work so hard.  I am excited to see what we can get done for the amazing people of American Samoa in the 115th Congress and am anxious to get back to work in January,” concluded Amata.

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