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  • House Fails To Pass Indian Gaming Bill

    The House voted 263-146 against suspending the rules on a controversial bill that will prohibit gambling on property owned by an Indian reservation in Arizona — potentially costing taxpayers $1 billion if the tribe pursued litigation for lost revenue.

    The lower chamber needed a two-thirds majority to agree to move the measure off the suspension calendar. 

    The Keep the Promises Act of 2015, introduced by Arizona Republican Trent Franks, will prevent the Tohono O’odham Nation from continuing the construction of a casino slated to open some time in December outside Phoenix.

    Proponents of the measure said its construction violated Proposition 202, which they say limits the number of casinos that can be built in the area. Federal courts disagreed with their claim, having ruled in favor of the reservation on more than one occasion.

    “I am disappointed that some of my colleagues voted to allow the Tohono O’odham tribe to disregard their end of the deal and dishonor their promise to the other tribes and to Arizonans,” Franks said in a statement after the vote.

    The Salt River Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community spent millions lobbying Congress to rush the legislation through, The Hill reports.

    “Today, David beat Goliath again. The special interests spent $17 million trying to rush this harmful bill through, but in the end it came down to the facts,” TO Nation Chairman Edward Manuel told the Arizona Republic. “The more that members of Congress examine this legislation, the more they recognize how harmful it is for Arizona workers, the Nation, and tribes across the U.S.”

    Under current law, “Glendale-area land acquired by the Nation with LRA1 funds qualifies for gaming under IGR.” The Congressional Budget Office projected if the tribe prevailed in a lawsuit, it’s possible it could have been generously compensated for its losses.

    “By prohibiting gaming on land that, the tribe is currently planning to use for such a purpose, the bill will impose an intergovernmental mandate, as defined in UMRA,” the CBO said in its cost estimate. “Absent the bill, CBO estimates that the tribe will net more than $100 million annually once the casino begins operations, probably in 2016.”

    “We met all the requirements of those laws, and we looked at all the lawsuits and rulings,” said Manuel, according to the Glendale Star. “We’re in compliance. We’ve put $200 million already in this project. There are 1,300 contractors from 80 different companies working, and we also employed 500 permanent employees long-term for the casino. These people are looking for a career with benefits, and all that’s going to go away if there is no casino.”

    The tribe released an ad Friday featuring workers talking about the impact the project’s demise will have on their employment status.

    WATCH:

    “This casino is providing a lot of jobs for a lot of people that have been out of work for a lot of time… Please, don’t stop this casino,” says one employee. Critics of the legislation say it will cost the area around 1,800 jobs.

    If the legislation passed, the land will have be put in a trust until the prohibition expired in 2027.

    Follow Juliegrace Brufke on Twitter

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    Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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