American Samoa’s GOP Congresswoman’s Amendment Lets Delegates Chair Some House ProceedingsWritten by Matt Kaye
Washington - It’s not exactly what Congress’s Democratic delegates wanted, but thanks to one of the island delegation’s now two sitting Republicans, all the delegates are now eligible to chair certain proceedings of the US House.
American Samoa Republican Aumua Amata Radewagen pursued last Congress, a role for the delegates to chair what’s called the “Committee of the Whole House,” a parliamentary tool where the House rises as a committee to consider bill amendments.
House GOP leaders refused then, to budge on restoring to the mostly Democratic island delegates a floor vote, when their votes wouldn’t change the outcome, but ran out of time to move Radewagen’s measure.
But Radewagen won her leadership’s support this week. Her new bill was amended to House rules for the new Congress, which then passed on a party-line vote…
“The House leadership and the House Republican conference has agreed to extend to the delegates, all delegates, the ability to chair the Committee of the Whole—that’s a huge thing for us,” said Radewagen.
But the Democratic delegates have not given up on getting back the floor vote they had in earlier, majority-Democratic congresses.
Speaking after Radewagen was first elected to Congress, Guam’s Madeleine Bordallo had this:
“Now that we have a Republican, maybe things might change, and maybe we will be able to work together, and maybe we can resume voting in the Committee of the Whole.”
Bordallo and Democratic leadership again pressed for the delegate vote this year, but with a continued strong GOP majority back in the new Congress…and despite election of a Republican from Puerto Rico…GOP leaders remain unwilling to give up any perceived power.
“Because we are Democrat, I think this is one of the reasons that the Republicans restricted us from further voting on Committee of the Whole matters…” said Bordallo.
Radewagen claimed in the last Congress, she was blindsided when Democratic leadership wrote to the chairman of the Rules Committee, seeking the delegate vote.
She accused Democrats of ‘politicizing’ the issue. Her spokesman said she wanted the delegates to “be able to chair” the House when it sits as the “Committee of the Whole,” but NOT vote.
Radewagen argues the now successful rules change is a “good first step” to getting the delegates a “larger seat at the table.”
Meanwhile, Bordallo and Democrats argue, they represent millions of Americans and deserve at least a symbolic vote.