Mashpee Wampanoag Chairman Cedric Cromwell has confirmed, in an email to tribe members, what was first reported here at Red State: House Democrats intend to push through a controversial Indian casino bill that has become the pet project of Massachusetts Sen. and presidential wannabe Elizabeth Warren.
“Chairman Grijalva is moving our bill quickly through the House Committee of Natural Resources as it should be taken up next week,” Cromwell triumphant email reads. “We will then focus our efforts on the Senate.”
As we reported earlier in the week, House Democrats have placed the bill on the suspension calendar for a quick and easy vote with no debate, no committee recommendation and no opportunities to offer amendments.
Cromwell appears to believe the vote is a forgone conclusion. But is it?
When she resumed control of the Speaker’s gavel just a few weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi stated that “transparency will be the order of the day”:
Democrats want to avoid regular order on the bill no doubt because of local opposition to the casino as well as controversy surrounding the tribe’s finances. Earlier this year the Wampanoag stripped its then-Chairman of financial control and then removed him entirely due to concerns about how he was managing the tribe’s finances. In addition, the tribe is $500 million in debt to Genting Malaysia, the consortium financing the tribe’s lobbying effort.
The tribe has a sordid past. It originally obtained federal recognition largely through the efforts of its one-time lobbyist Jack Abramoff who persuaded then-Natural Resources Chairman Richard Pombo to back the tribe. Stunningly, Pombo is now lobbying on behalf of the tribe and Genting.
In addition, not all Wampanoag support the measure. The Cape Cod Times reports:
The possible House vote also comes after the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) — a sister tribe of the Mashpee tribe — declared its opposition to the legislation. In a letter sent to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission dated Jan. 22, Aquinnah Tribal Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais said the bill’s passage would have a “very real potential to have a serious adverse effect” on her tribe’s ability to acquire additional land within the Wampanoag Nation’s ancestral territory.
House Republicans need to step up and stop Warren’s very flawed controversial Indian casino bill.