21 Jan 2021

American Samoa's Representative expresses hope around new US President

1:54 pm on 21 January 2021

American Samoa's Congresswoman has expressed hope around the future after the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

Uifa'atali Aumua Amata Radewagen attended the inauguration of the 46th President of the US.

It was an inauguration like none other, with roads, bridges and rail stations closed for security, after the US Capitol was stormed by protesters on 6 January in which five people died.

The US Capitol complex became a militarised zone with more than 20,000 National Guardsmen and kilometres of temporary fences securing the area.

Congresswoman, Uifa'atali Aumua Amata Radewagen

Congresswoman Uifa'atali on her way to the inauguration Photo: supplied

Congresswoman Uifa'atali said the situation meant there were massive delays to get to the inauguration.

"It took me three hours. It generally takes nine minutes for me to get from the house in Alexandria to my office."

Even with the heightened security and sombre national mood amid a coronavirus pandemic which has led to over 400,000 deaths, a struggling national economy and bitter political divisions, the Republican Congresswoman said she was optimistic about what lay ahead.

The hope comes as President Joe Biden's relief plan includes $US1,400 payments per person, extended unemployment help, more aid for businesses and a $15 federal minimum wage that Uifa'atali said shouldn't be a problem after House Democrats exempted American Samoa.

"They were willing to keep the local, the current law in place where the wage rises at a moderate rate of 40 cents every three years which boils down to 13.3 cents per year.

"I'll communicate with that committee chairman but I don't anticipate that being a concern for our local economy."

The relief package also has $US350 billion for state, local and territorial governments for first responders, Covid testing and to reopen schools as well as tens of billions for a new national vaccination program.

However Uifa'atali said some people in American Samoa had said they would refuse to take the vaccine.

"They need to reconsider that, think about it, because billions have been spent to get this thing invented and I, myself, I stand behind it."

The congresswoman said she had received both the vaccine and its booster shot and would continue to encourage others to get vaccinated as the pandemic continued to take a deadly toll around the world.