- Delegate to the House of Representatives from American Samoa
- Member of the Progressive Caucus
- Opposed tax cuts, favored instead giving $300 to every American
- Seafarers International Union has been among his biggest political contributors
Eni F.H. Faleomavaega has been a Delegate to Congress from American Samoa since 1989. Although no party label appears on his ballot, he runs as a self-identified Democrat.
Faleomavaega was born in August 1943 in Vailoatai, American Samoa, and went to high school in Hawaii. After serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1966-69, he attended Brigham Young University in Utah, graduating with a political science degree in 1972. He then went to law school in Houston and, later, at the University of California Berkeley, earning his LL.M. degree in 1973.
From 1973-75, Faleomavaega was the acting U.S. Delegate from American Samoa (whose first official U.S. Delegate would not be elected until 1980). From 1975-81, he was Counsel to the House Interior Committee. Returning home to Pago Pago, he served as American Samoa’s Deputy Attorney General from 1981-84, and as its Lieutenant Governor from 1984-89. In 1988 he was elected U.S. Delegate; he has been re-elected, sometimes narrowly, every two years since then.
Faleomavaega is a Member of the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives, and is perhaps its most politically moderate member; he takes stands on few controversial issues. Delegates such as Faleomavaega are more like super-lobbyists than Members of Congress. They cast no binding votes, and therefore they have no voting record by which their political views can be analyzed.
Faleomavaega opposed the tax cuts proposed by President George W. Bush in 2001, endorsing instead the Progressive Caucus’ “American People’s Dividend” — a payment of $300 to every person in America, the same for all whether a person paid very high taxes or no taxes at all. Under this plan, a husband and wife with three children would receive a refundable tax credit of $1,500, regardless of their income or tax burden.
Among Faleomavaega’s largest political contributors are the Seafarers International Union and organizations associated with the tuna industry. Nearly one-third of his territory’s population is involved in that industry.