Indian Gaming Today

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Looks Like the RIGHT Bill is Wrong (Temporarily, at Least)

Thread: Proposed IGRA Amendments

House Rep. Richard Pombo’s Restricting Indian Gaming to Homelands of Tribes, or RIGHT bill, was rejected by a 247-171 vote today. Not unpredictably, the vote fell along party lines; Republicans in favor, Democrats against. The legislation in part fell pray to a procedural posture in which the bill was brought to the House floor under rules that limited debate, precluded amendments, and required a two-thirds approval for passage. Tribal associations and lobbyists also carried their message of opposition to key lawmakers.

The RIGHT bill’s main target was to do away with the "best interests" exception to IGRA's general prohibition against gaming on newly acquired lands.

“How this bill could be considered controversial – outside Indian gaming circles, of course – is beyond me,” said Pombo after the vote came down.

That statement could be seen as either curious or disingenuous. We can see clearly why the RIGHT bill is controversial. Indeed, we discussed why RIGHT is wrong (both wrong-headed and wrongly constructed) in our August 7th post.

Although the vote is a clear victory for Indian gaming-related interests and advocates of tribal sovereignty, it may be short-lived. Legislators now will turn to their prospects in the upcoming election, and may even point with pride to their vote on the RIGHT bill, but nothing guarantees the bill is dead.

From a different perspective – from the figurative 20,000 feet up, looking down – even the current bill’s demise demonstrates how beholden tribes are to Congress’s whims.


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