On Friday House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled HR 308 from the House suspension calendar postponing efforts to fast track a bill that would kill an Arizona tribe’s efforts to build a casino on their reservation land at the edge of the Phoenix suburb of Glendale.
Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva had protested the bill’s inclusion saying, “This precedent-making legislation has no business on the suspension calendar,” Grijalva added, “Suspension of the rules is for noncontroversial legislation that doesn’t cost taxpayers money,” and “This bill is both controversial and expensive.”
No reason was given for the bill’s removal or when it may come up for a another vote. Without naming the Tohono O’odham Nation specifically, the bill restricts gaming on land within the Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area acquired by the Secretary of the Interior in trust for the benefit of an Indian tribe after April 9, 2013. The restriction would not be lifted before January 1, 2027.
Grijalva’s efforts at least ensure that if the bill comes up for another vote, lawmakers will need to debate the measure in public and go on record as to how they voted. That will not likely please other lawmakers on either side of the Aisle.
Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have a companion bill that has been approved by the Committee on Indian Affairs. S 152 has not been scheduled for action on the Senate floor. “Win or lose [a possible vote in the House], then we go on to the Senate where it’s never gotten out of, regardless of who is in the majority,” Grijalva said.
Two years ago an identical bill passed the House 343-78. There has been no indication from the White House on how the president would deal with the issue, but many surmise that if it were to appear on his desk in broad daylight, rather than as an “earmark” on a must-pass bill, such as a measure to keep the government from shutting down, it would be vetoed.
If passed the bill would circumvent several federal court rulings, mostly in favor of the tribe, who have been under attack by the state and several tribes with their own casinos in the area. The tribe would keep their land, but not be able to operate a casino on it.
Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Resort is otherwise set to open late this year as a Class II gaming facility. Depending on the result of lawsuits currently before the court it could also add Las Vegas style casino gaming and non-bingo slots.