16 August 2010

US Virgin Islands Delegate Clarifies Status of Political Status Legislation

Press Release of the US Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen


Email Misconstrues Christensen Support for Status Education Funding

August 16, 2010

Contact: Monique C. Watson (202) 226-7973 or email: monique.watson@mail.house.gov

Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen said today that a circulating email is giving the false impression that she does not support public funding for status education in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “This is ridiculous because I am a co-sponsor of HR 3940 which clarifies the role of the Department of Interior in providing public education funding for status to the territories and I initially was responsible for the Virgin Islands being included in the bill. I raised the issue at the committee hearing on technical assistance and made efforts to ensure funding for that purpose if the bill did not pass,” said Congresswoman Christensen on Monday. “Not only am I a co-sponsor, I voted for it in committee and supported it as it passed the House,” she said.

Christensen explained that when the bill got to the Senate it was amended with language to delay the increase in the minimum wage in American Samoa and the Northern Marianas, because of reasons pertaining to their particular economic situation. “The Senate decided to strip out the public education funding language out in order to be able to pass the minimum wage legislation, but left references to Guam intact, because the original bill was proposed by Guam Delegate Madeline Bordallo,” she said.

Congresswoman Christensen explained that what is being circulated is a portion of a press release by American Samoa Delegate Eni Faleomaevega where he thanks her for supporting the Senate action which would move the minimum wage issue forward. “Technically, it was staff that agreed to the removal with the understanding that the other territories would be re-included in an Omnibus measure being moved in the fall,” she said. “As a former member of the Virgin Islands Status Commission and as Congresswoman who has always fought to include the Virgin Islands in any potential funding, I want to say once again, that I did not agree to having the Virgin Islands stripped of any funding, and I look forward to supporting the original language when the issue comes up in the fall.”

Congresswoman Christensen said that she hoped that her long record of protecting the interest of Virgin Islanders would make an explanation unnecessary, but felt it was important to respond before the whole issue is taken out of context.