10 Jul 2015

American Samoa's congresswoman appeals for continued support

4:04 pm on 10 July 2015

American Samoa's congresswoman has used her maiden floor speech in the United States Congress to appeal for continued federal support for the territory.

Aumua Amata, American Samoa

Aumua Amata, American Samoa Photo: RNZI correspondent

Aumua Amata Radewagen is in her seventh month as American Samoa's first female delegate to Washington.

In her speech, she said the territory was facing continued economic challenges and said it needed federal funding to develop ageing infrastructure.

Aumua urged the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Ken Calvert, to consider the territory's isolation and employment disparity with the US when funding programmes for territories.

"The world has changed much since the inception of this programme to assist American Samoa government operations and additional needs have arisen. Local revenues have remained relatively constant, the infrastructure has become dated and in disrepair, and outside influences, particularly China, have begun to make inroads into the region."

Mr Calvert made no promises, but paid tribute to American Samoa's high enlistment in the US military, and Aumua's leadership as vice-chair of the Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs subcommittee.