House Democrats Pull Controversial Casino Bill After Opposition from Gosar and Trump

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Washington, May 8, 2019 | comments
While I’m sure this bill will rear its ugly ahead in the near future and Democratic Leadership will likely try to rig the process so they can win, the fact is we won today and this is a major victory!
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WASHINGTON, D.C -- Today, U.S. Representative Paul Gosar (AZ-04) released the following statement after House Democrats pulled H.R. 312, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, from the House Floor following strong bipartisan opposition:

“Thanks to strong opposition from President Trump and me, Elizabeth Warren’s special interests bill, H.R. 312, was yanked from the House floor today. In short, this bill would have authorized an off-reservation casino 50 miles from the Mashpee Tribe’s historic reservation and provided a $500 million bailout to a foreign gaming company,” said Congressman Gosar. “While I’m sure this bill will rear its ugly ahead in the near future and Democratic Leadership will likely try to rig the process so they can win, the fact is we won today and this is a major victory!”

Background:

H.R. 312 is contrary to the view of the Department of the Interior, contradicts a Supreme Court decision and aims to reverse federal court decisions on this matter in order to build a massive 400,000 square foot off-reservation gaming complex for the benefit of Genting, a foreign Malaysian gaming company.

The bill was opposed by 10 of the 13 voting Republicans during the Natural Resources Committee markup of this bill, including Ranking Republican Rob Bishop. These Members are joined by Americans for Limited Government, the American Principles ProjectCoalition for American ValuesEagle Forumthe Governor of Rhode Islandthe Wampanoag Tribe of Gray Head (Aquinnah)Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Congressman James R. Langevin (D-RI) and President Donald Trump.

Last week Rep. Gosar spoke against the bill during the Natural Resources Committee markup and introduced an amendment. Rep. Gosar spoke adamantly against the bill at the GOP Whip briefing last night and again at the House Republican Conference meeting this morning. Rep. Gosar’s staff sent around numerous facts and pieces of opposition to the bill to Republican and Democratic staff. President Trump tweeted that he opposed the bill minutes before debate was set to occur.

All of this opposition was enough to have the bill pulled today from consideration by the House of Representatives under the suspension of the rules procedures one week after it was considered in Committee with no bill report or score from the Congressional Budget Office.

H.R. 312 at its core is a special deal sought by Senator Elizabeth Warren to overturn the Trump Administration’s lawful denial of the Mashpee Tribe land to trust for a new off-reservation casino. The Washington Times reported how Elizabeth Warren “previously opposed gambling expansion…but embraced the Mashpee cause in response to Mr. Trump’s jabbing at her as ‘Pocahontas.’” The off-reservation casino is now Warren’s top tribal priority and she “unloaded on the Trump Administration” calling the lawful decision an “injustice.”

The bill forever strips the federal government of its jurisdiction over this tribal casino and overturns a well-reasoned decision from a federal judge. H.R. 312 also provides a massive tax shelter for Genting by shielding the land – and the casino on it – from taxation and State regulation.

H.R. 312 creates two reservations for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts.

One reservation will be in the Town of Mashpee, the tribe’s historic reservation lands.  Under H.R. 312, no casino will be allowed “within the geographical boundaries of the Town of Mashpee.”  (See reference to the Intergovernmental Agreement “shall control” language in sec. 2(c)).

The other reservation will be 50 miles away from the Mashpee Wampanoag in the City of Taunton.  This site is not part of the tribe’s historic reservation and was selected by the tribe and Genting for a billion dollar casino project because of its proximity to the Providence, Rhode Island casino market (20 miles distant).

There is no reason for this second reservation other than to build an off-reservation casino 50 miles away from where the Mashpee Tribe currently resides.

In fact, the new off-reservation casino will only be 20 miles from the Patriot’s Football Stadium and again 50 miles from the Mashpee Wampanoag’s historic reservation. 

In 1988, Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act with the intent to restrict casinos to tribes’ original reservations.

By placing land in trust for the Mashpee Tribe for gaming in Taunton, H.R. 312 creates an off-reservation casino, which is inconsistent with congressional intent.  This is often called “reservation shopping” and it’s abuse of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

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