CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to consider the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3940, on Wednesday, September 29, 2010, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 3940 was introduced on October 10, 2009, by Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark-up and reported the bill, as amended, by voice vote on November 18, 2009. The bill was approved in the House on December 7, 2009, by voice vote. On September 28, 2010, the Senate approved an amendment to H.R. 3940 by unanimous consent and returned the amendment to the House for further consideration.
Political Status Education in Guam: H.R. 3940 would express the sense of Congress that Secretary of the Interior may provide technical assistance to the Government of Guam for public education regarding political status options, but only if the political status options are consistent with the Constitution of the United States.
Minimum Wage in Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands: The bill would delay scheduled minimum wage increases in the American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The legislation would delay minimum wage increases in American Samoa in 2010 and 2011, and in CNMI in 2011.
In addition, the bill would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess the impact of the implementation of minimum wage increases by September 1, 2011. Subsequent assessments would be required by April 1, 2013, and every two years thereafter.
In 2007, Congress approved legislation to incrementally increase the minimum wage American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The law applied the first $.50 per hour increase in July 2007 and mandated additional increases in each subsequent year until the minimum wages reach the level of the U.S. minimum wage—currently $7.25 per hour. American Samoa’s lowest paid will reach that wage in 2016, and the CNMI in 2015. In American Samoa, one of two tuna canneries employing almost a third of workers closed in September 2009. In the CNMI, where the garment industry was one of two major employers, the last garment factory closed in early 2009. According to GAO, “Cannery officials said that minimum wage increases were a significant contributing factor in the closure of one cannery, in addition to other factors. Public and private sector officials expressed concern about the significant impact on employment if future minimum wage increases lead the remaining cannery to close or make attracting new industries more difficult.”
A CBO score for H.R. 3940 was not yet available as of press time.