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Panel greenlights proposal to restore American Samoa’s autonomy in charter amendment process

By Pacific Island Times News Staff


The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources has given the nod to a bill that would reinstate American Samoa’s autonomy in amending its constitution and streamline the process.

The panel on Monday reported out Rep. Uifa’atali Amata Radewagen’s H.R. 6062, which is now headed to the House floor.

Uifa’atali Amata Radewagen

The bill would repeal a 1983 law that required congressional involvement in American Samoa’s constitutional amendment process, which Radewagen said only posed an impediment.

H.R. 6002 would restore the territory’s ability “to approve amendments to the territorial constitution based on majority rule in a democratic act of self-determination” without the need for further congressional action.

If enacted, the legislation would eliminate “unnecessary, redundant steps at the federal level,” Radewagen said.

“I want to reiterate that this repeal does not limit Congress’s powers in any way. We still have plenary oversight over the territories, and I thank my colleagues for recognizing that,” the American Samoa’s delegate to Congress said.

Radewagen described H.R. 6062 as "a strong step forward for territorial and indigenous self-determination.”

At the committee proceedings, the congresswoman raised two points related to the 1983 law.

“First, Congress does not need the 1983 one-sentence statute we propose to repeal in order for Congress to exercise full and plenary oversight of any amendments to any local territorial constitution or law,” she said. 

“The second point is that this poorly drafted statute is not enforceable as a mandate for Congress to exercise or hold in abeyance its plenary power over amendments to the local constitution,” Radewagen added.

She dismissed the 1983 law as “a meaningless” statute that was “inconsistent with local self-government over local affairs over which Congress has delegated local authority.”

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