Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:  Frank Pallone, Jr.
Date: July 23, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I thank my ranking member.

I rise to oppose H.R. 2362, the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act. To put it quite simply, there is no good reason for passage of this legislation. In fact, there are a whole bunch of reasons why this legislation should fail today.

First, I would like to say that I strongly support efforts to bring economic prosperity to Indian Country. I've been a longtime advocate of Indian Country's right and power to exercise their sovereignty and pursue economic development in the ways they choose. That is why I was glad to vote for H.R. 205, the HEARTH Act.

The HEARTH Act permits all tribes, not just a select few, to engage in leasing activities without Federal oversight under certain circumstances. Under the HEARTH Act, tribes can engage in these activities with both domestic and foreign entities. Furthermore, the HEARTH Act enjoys strong bipartisan support and passed this body on May 15 by a vote of 400-0. The bill then passed the Senate by unanimous consent, and it now only awaits the President's signature.

In contrast, H.R. 2362 singles out the Republic of Turkey for preferential treatment. Anyone who questions this just needs to turn to the bill itself which states its purposes as ``to facilitate economic development by Indian tribes and encourage investment by Turkish enterprises.'' If this bill didn't give Turkey special preference, what would be the point? It would be entirely duplicative to what will be law in just a few days.

The Republic of Turkey, Mr. Speaker, acts increasingly hostile to U.S. interests and has a long history of human rights violations. Turkey is not a country that should be receiving preferential treatment in any sense, and certainly not explicitly approved by this Congress. Turkey has yet to acknowledge the fact of the Armenian genocide and reconcile itself with its own history. The Armenian genocide is the first genocide of the 20th century. It's a dark chapter in history, but it must be remembered and reaffirmed. That's why we must not stand by as the Republic of Turkey continues their policy of denying the 20th century's first genocide.

It is also very appropriate to remember that this past Friday marked the 38th anniversary of the illegal occupation of northern Cyprus by Turkey. On July 20, 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus in violation of international law, and at great cost to the citizens of Cyprus. Turkish troops continue to occupy Cyprus illegally, and the invasion forced nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots to flee their homes.

The EU member Cypriot government has made strong efforts to bring this ongoing occupation to a peaceful settlement. However, the Turkish government from afar continues to push against such peace negotiations. In fact, Turkey has used its bases in northern Cyprus to harass Israeli merchant vessels peacefully engaged, in cooperation with the Cypriot Government, on oil and gas exploration. It has even threatened U.S. companies.

I have just presented a couple of examples as to why Turkey's policies fly in the face of solid moral standing and threaten U.S. interests abroad. Legislating preferential treatment for Turkey would be a mistake and only signal that genocide denial, illegal occupation of U.S. allies, and other anti-U.S. policies will be tolerated.

I'm proud to say that this Congress has passed legislation that gives tribes more flexibility in entering into lease agreements that will promote economic development and future vitality. Today's bill does not advance this cause. It would simply put Turkey on a pedestal, and I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill and vote ``no.''

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