CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, June 18, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2938, the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Clarification Act, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for approval. The bill was introduced on September 15, 2011, by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up and reported the bill by a vote of 32-11 on November 17, 2011.
H.R. 2938 would prohibit gaming activities on certain land owned by the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona. Specifically, the bill would prohibit gaming on off-reservation land owned by the Nation and taken into trust by the federal government in Glendale, Arizona. H.R. 2938 would permit the Nation to use the Glendale land for any other purpose besides gaming.
According to the bill’s findings, beginning in 2003, the Tohono O'odham Nation began taking steps to purchase approximately 135 acres of land in Maricopa County, within the City of Glendale 160 miles from the Indian tribe's headquarters in Sells. The Tohono O'odham Nation is now trying to have these lands taken into trust status by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act of 1986 (Gila Bend Act), and has asked the Secretary to declare these lands eligible for gaming, thereby allowing the Indian tribe to conduct Las Vegas style gaming on the lands. The Secretary has issued an opinion stating that he has the authority to take approximately 53.54 acres of these lands into trust status, and plans to do so when legally able. The State of Arizona, City of Glendale, and at least 12 Indian tribes in Arizona oppose the Tohono O'odham Nation gaming on these lands. No other Indian tribe supports the Tohono O'odham Nation's efforts to conduct gaming on these lands, according to the bill.
According to CBO, “the bill would have no significant impact on the federal budget.”