Just a few hours before a scheduled House veto to approve a Native American casino project that was being backed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, President Donald Trump sent out a tweet that not only killed the bill but also sent all its supporters scrambling. Now, the story behind the bill is raising quite a lot of furrowed brows.
“Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren,” President Trump wrote in the tweet. “It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!”
Referred to as the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, the bill was set to overturn the previous ruling by both the country’s federal courts and the Trump administration’s Department of Interior thus allowing the Cape Cod-based tribe to acquire land in Taunton, MA for a $1 billion casino project. As stands, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe have an agreement with Genting Malaysia, a multinational gambling conglomerate that has reportedly fronted the tribe over $400 million.
Up until Mr. Trump wrote the tweet, things seemed to be going quite well for the bill. It had already managed to pass the House Natural Resources Committee last week by a 26-10 vote, after which it was placed on the house suspension calendar for a vote that was scheduled for Wednesday – the vote would require at least two-thirds of the House to support it.
Is There Cause for Alarm?
While Donald Trump’s attack on Warrant is old hat, his decision to involve himself on the casino legislation was rather unusual and therefore his potential role is not raising a number of valid questions. According to The Daily Beast, the president’s position aligned with lobbying client of Matt Schlapp, his advisor who recently began to lobby Congress and the White House. As it turns out, Twin River Management, one of Schlapp’s firm’s clients could lose business in case the new Massachusetts casino is allowed to go live.
“Today’s action by the Trump administration is yet another deal the federal government is reneging on with Native Americans, and it underscores why Congress must pass our legislation: so that the Mashpee Wampanoag do not lose their home at the hands of the federal government,” Elizabeth Warren said.
To make things even worse, Mr. Schlapp is not the only prominent figure related to President Trump that is lobbying against the Indian Trible on behalf of Twin River and this is a huge problem. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has a rather shaky history in Washington and it goes without saying that it needs Congress to sign off on its tribal status especially after the Interior Department dealt a blow to its federal tribal recognition last year.