Tweet Trumps Bills to Aid Indian Country as Congressional Report Knocks Native Representation on Capitol Grounds
House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) vowed to pursue other means of passing a pair of bills to help Indian Country after they were pulled from being voted on by the House this week. Despite a bipartisan agreement to consider two bills under suspension of the rules, which requires the approval of two thirds of members, a racist tweet by Donald Trump against one of the bills caused Republicans to back out. “Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren. It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!” Trump tweeted. While the tweet on the surface appeared to be a knock on Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Trump has another connection to the bill: Trump advisor and husband of WH Strategic Communications Director Mercedes Schlapp, Matt Schlapp, has been lobbying Congress and the White House on behalf of the Twin River Management Group, which owns a casino in Rhode Island that would directly compete with one planned by the Mashpee Wampanoag. The House was scheduled to vote on the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act -- which would guarantee the tribe’s lands in Massachusetts can't be taken out of trust by the federal government and can't be challenged by litigation -- and a Republican-sponsored bill which would update the Indian Reorganization Act to affirm that the federal government can take land into trust for the benefit of tribes that received federal recognition after June 18, 1934. This development came the same day as a new House Appropriations Committee report highlighted the disrespectful descriptions of Native Americans in the Capitol, which “do not portray Native Americans as equals or Indian nations as independent sovereigns.” The report urges the Architect of the Capitol to “work with Native American historians and professionals at the National Museum of the American Indian to ensure that the Capitol complex more accurately and respectfully represents the history of Native Americans.” The Congressional Research Service, which is a part of the Library of Congress, does not currently have a dedicated policy specialist for “American Indian Affairs.” The report also recommends that CRS appoint two staff members, a specialist and a senior specialist in American Indian affairs. More here.