I wrote here about how, in a reversal of position, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is backing an Indian gaming bill tied to special interests. The bill aims to circumvent legal obstacles currently thwarting the Mashpee Wampanoag’s attempts to establish a casino.
Warren used to be hostile to legalized gambling. As a candidate for the Senate in 2011, she strongly opposed successful efforts to expand casino-style gambling in Massachusetts. In 2014, she backed an unsuccessful ballot initiative to repeal the expansion on economic grounds.
Why the reversal? Two reasons, I suspect. First, she likely was swayed by the rich, high-power interests behind the Indian gaming legislation. Second, backing the legislation provides Warren with an opportunity to get on the good side of the Indian establishment, portions of which take of dim view of the Senator’s attempts to pass herself off as part Indian.
Here’s another question: Why are some House Republicans helping Warren’s gaming bill pass?
Last Wednesday the House Natural Resources Committee voted out H.R. 312, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act by a vote of 26-10, including three Republicans. And now the bill is being rushed to the full House for a vote possibly as soon as this Wednesday, reportedly with at least the acquiescence, if not the open support, of Republican leadership.
Republican acquiescence leaves observers scratching their heads, given the dubious nature of the casino project and its importance to Warren:
Progress on this bill, sometimes called the “Warren Casino Bill,” comes despite ongoing questions surrounding both the Mashpee tribe—whose leadership is currently embroiled in a financial scandal—and Genting Malaysia, the multinational gaming conglomerate that has already invested close to half a billion dollars in the project. Genting has also been linked to a political scandal in Malaysia that helped topple the government in Kuala Lumpur last year.
Republicans opposing the casino are asking why Congress would want to move forward on such a troubled project, particularly given its connections to infamous DC moneyman and lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
President Trump is among those who see the folly of backing Warren’s Casino Bill. Today, he tweeted:
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!
Michael Graham, who has been following this story far more closely than I have, declines to speculate as to the reasons why some Republicans, and apparently the GOP’s House leadership, are poised to help give Warren this victory. I won’t either, though the phrase “wheels within wheels” comes to mind.
Perhaps Trump’s tweet will cause the Republican leadership to take another look at the matter, and maybe try to halt the Warren Casino Bill express.