U.S. Senate Approves Amata’s Cabotage Bill for American Samoa
Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata welcomed U.S. Senate approval of her cabotage bill to promote reliable air service in American Samoa.
Additionally, the bill, led in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) – who visited American Samoa earlier this year – ensures FAA funding for five years and includes other features, such as directing the FAA to establish a minimum seat size in U.S. passenger jet aircraft on behalf of passengers.
“Our bill is now through Congress completely, and has been sent to the President to be signed into law,” said Aumua Amata. “We continue to work for the best possible air service for American Samoa. This change will help hold down costs for our people as they travel between Manu’a and Tutuila, and along with the recently announced multimillion dollar federal transportation project for better pavement at our Pago Pago International Airport, we continue to see important successes.”
Congresswoman Amata with Chairman Shuster and Secretary Chao.
By a wide bipartisan vote margin of 93-6, the Senate passed the House bill, which directs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the next five years, including Congresswoman Amata’s cabotage air service provision. This was the final legislative step in the effort, which President Trump is expected to sign into law. The House had already passed this bill on September 27 as the former FAA authorization expired. The FAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, directed by Secretary Elaine Chao.
“I’d like to specially thank Chairman Shuster for incorporating our bill into the five-year FAA legislation, and Chairman Orrin Hatch for supporting us in the Senate,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “I also greatly appreciate Secretary Chao and FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell for hearing our concern about our airport’s needs, and prioritizing our major paving project.”
Specifically, Amata’s cabotage provision streamlines the requirement of the foreign carriers who service the routes between Tutuila and Manu'a to reduce unnecessary paperwork and costs. Previously, the carrier was required to apply for waivers every 30 days, but this action will reduce that application requirement to every six months to promote uninterrupted service. Amata’s initial legislation was a bipartisan bill, H.R. 276, passed by the House of Representatives in 2017, then with Chairman Shuster’s support, adopted into the FAA authorization, itself combined with broader legislation as H.R. 302.