House passes AS constitutional amendments bill

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Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata’s Constitutional Amendments bill, HR 6062 to carry out the results of the November 2022 referendum has passed the full House and now heads to the Senate.

KHJ News Washington DC correspondent Matt Kaye reports…

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And with that, Congresswoman Amata defended her bill to restore to American Samoans the right to approve local constitutional amendments without Congressional action, just an ok from the Interior Secretary—a right ended in 1983…

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Natural Resources Chair Bruce Westerman says local concerns that the Interior Secretary could unilaterally amend American Samoa’s constitution led to the ’83 law…

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Congresswoman Amata says H.R. 6062 restores to American Samoa “equal treatment among the US territories”–

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The bill passed under rules allowing for swift passage of non-controversial bills. Amata stressed the bill’s bipartisan support in Natural Resources.

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But in a footnote to the bill, Amata’s office says had Swain’s non-voting Fono delegate prevailed that Congress ratify local amendments, the Swain’s Island delegate vote likely would have failed.

Congress cannot pass unconstitutional laws that give uninhabited islands like Swain’s proportional representation, even in local legislatures.