In Opposition to HR 2938
House Chamber, Washington, D.C.
June 18, 2012
Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) website http://mcclintock.house.gov/.
The facts are clear. In the 1950's, the federal government condemned and seized land and water rights owned by Tohono O'odham Indian Nation. In 1986, Congress settled the tribe's outstanding claims by agreeing in part to take into trust replacement land the Tohono O'odham might acquire under very specific conditions.
The tribe has acquired a particular parcel meeting all the conditions set forth in the law and asserted its rightful claim under that law.
This bill would retroactively and fundamentally alter that settlement, breaking the promises the Tohono O'odham have relied upon as they spent many years and millions of dollars acquiring the land and planning the project.
Now, why would we want to do that?
Very simple. Like many tribes, the Tohono O'odham want to build a casino on the land. Their casino would compete with other tribes in the region, and those other tribes don't want the competition.
Competition is so inconvenient. It requires offering your customers a better service at a lower price. Tohono O'odham seeks to do that. The others don't.
So the other tribes -- which have an oligopoly on gambling in the Phoenix area -- created a front made up of anti-gambling pressure groups and NIMBY activists to try and stop them. They have been defeated in the courts at every turn.
So what to do, what to do? They don't want to compete for customers and they don't have a leg to stand on in court. What's left?
Of course. Get Congress to break its promise. Which is why we're all here today.
Let's be very clear what passing this bill would mean. Many in this House have rightly criticized the President for killing thousands of jobs to satisfy his ideological opposition to the Keystone pipeline. This bill does exactly that: it kills 6,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent operations jobs by blocking this project on ideological grounds.
But the damage only begins there. Federal taxpayers will become liable for hundreds millions of dollars of economic damages to compensate the Tohono O'odham for lost profits, the devaluation of their property and years of planning suddenly rendered worthless by this act.
So what's the balance sheet here? On the plus side -- if you can call it that -- we satisfy the ideological itch of anti-gambling busy-bodies and anti-growth zealots and we protect a gambling oligopoly in Phoenix from competition.
On the minus side, we destroy thousands of jobs and we open our constituents to hundreds of millions of dollars of damages that we are certain to lose in court.
I would suggest that this bill ought to be laughed off the floor, except, of course, that there's nothing funny about it.
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