Indian gaming tribes are readying for a possible lame duck lobbying battle amidst indications that the senior U.S. Senator from California is working on an amendment to curtail the ability of tribes to establish off-reservation casinos.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is working on a proposal to limit the ability of tribes to establish off-reservation casinos, and may even try to attach the measure to an omnibus appropriations bill in next month’s lame duck session of Congress, sources have confirmed.
A move by Feinstein would mark an escalation in the battle over an issue that first saw the Bush administration issue some regulatory restrictions on the ability of tribes to establish off reservation facilities, and then became more complicated still through a February 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that raised further legal questions for some tribes.
Interior Department officials already have vetted language in Feinstein’s proposal and sent it back to her, but she hasn’t made a final decision about when she will introduce it, according to a Senate source.
“She could stick it onto the appropriations bill, which may be the only piece of legislation Congress passes during the lame duck,” said Joe Valandra, a tribal gaming lobbyist and former chief of staff of the National Indian Gaming Commission.
Sources said Feinstein’s proposal, should it pass, would effectively amend the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 by prohibiting tribes from having newly acquired land taken into trust for gaming purposes.
Feinstein, a Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has been one of the most prominent opponents of off-reservation gambling in Congress. Maybe it's time for Californians to allow gaming throughout the state.