7 Jan 2011

US Congress ends committee voting rights for territories

7:10 am on 7 January 2011

The US territorial delegates have lost their voting rights in Committee under Republican rules for the 112th Congress.

One of the first acts of the new Republican-controlled House was to take away the floor voting rights of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Marianas, American Samoa and Washington D.C.

Our correspondent in American Samoa Monica Miller reports

"Five of those delegates are Democrats, while one, from the Northern Marianas Islands, is an independent. American Samoa's Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin says the changes give unfair treatment to some five million Americans residing in the U.S. territories and D.C. Faleomavaega says while symbolic, the delegate vote is important for transparency and political accountability. He says it allows the representatives of the Territories and DC to make public their views and positions on issues of national interest that are important to their constituents. Faleomavaega has also pointed out that as part of the American family, a disproportionate number of Samoans are fighting in the US military. He says a statistical profile of Americans killed in the war in Iraq shows American Samoa has the highest rate of deaths per 1-million population in all of the US."