Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Blow to Faleomavaega's Prestige

Since he traveled at the opening of the 110th Congress and was out of the country during Nancy Pelosi's vaunted "First 100 Hours" (during which the House made the policy decision to raise American Samoa's minimum wage), we cannot be certain Faleomavaega learned his lesson and is sticking around for the critical first 100 days of the 111th Congress (and the Obama administration), but let's assume he is smart enough to remain in his seat at least until the crucial stimulus package passes.

If that were the case, then he suffered a stinging humiliation by not being invited to take part in First Lady Michelle Obama's visit to the Department of the Interior. The First Lady is in the midst of a tour of the government's major agencies and Interior was her latest stop. At the Interior Building she was warmly greeted not by a traditional Samoan welcoming ceremony but by an Indian ceremony of a similar nature. Now, Interior has responsibility for both Indian and territorial programs, so it should not have been a matter of one over another but both. What makes it so sad for American Samoa is that Faleomavaega is such a senior Member of Congress in the majority with his party also in control of the White House.

Even though he is senior enough to chair a subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Interior Department, he again turned down chairmanship of the Insular Subcommittee, even though in this Congress that body has been given substantially enhanced jurisdiction by adding responsibility for federal oceans and wildlife policy. No, Eni let the much more junior Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) have that chairmanship, which previous chairman Donna Christiansen (D-VI) gave up to take a seat on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.

Eni has contented himself with continuing to chair the Asia/Pacific subcommittee of Foreign Affairs, which is considered a minor committee in the House because the Constitution vests in the executive branch sole responsibility for foreign affairs. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is virtually powerless, which is why Faleomavaega continues to rank below all the other delegates in non-partisan power rankings. Only the Senate Foreign Relations Committee exercises influence, because it has the power to ratify treaties and confirm ambassadors and senior State Deparment officials. The American Samoa voters don't know this, of course, or if they do, don't care. They love their "thumb-in-your-eye Eni"--or at least those in Leone and surroundings they do. That's enough to get him re-elected.

So, it is little wonder that the White House ignored Eni when they scheduled the First Lady's visit to Interior. Or maybe he was out of the country.


1 comment:

busycorner said...

Grow up!

Eni doesn't work for the Interior.

And do you really think a kava ceremony was in order for Michelle?

Get yourself a Michael Phelps Peace Pipe and cut the rant.

I know who you are.