U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4) released the following statement after the House vote on H.R. 2362 - the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act, which he authored. This legislation would eliminate red tape in the tribal leasing process to facilitate U.S. trade with international partners and help economic development on tribal land. Capitalizing on the interest overseas companies have shown in working with Indian tribes, H.R. 2362 reforms the current restrictive and archaic leasing system to promote trade with the 155 member nations of the World Trade Organization. With a vote of 222 - 160, the measure fell short of the two-thirds majority required for passage under the Suspension process.
"I'm very pleased with the strong bipartisan support for the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act.
"A majority of my colleagues voted in favor of this bill to promote trade and economic development on tribal lands. Indian Country suffers from the highest unemployment rates in the nation, and these reforms would bring desperately needed economic opportunity while strengthening ties between the United States and key allies and trading partners around the world.
"Although the bill did not receive the two-thirds majority vote necessary to pass under the Suspension process, I will look for opportunities to reintroduce it in the next Congress."
H.R. 2362 directs the Secretary of the Interior to create a demonstration program of up to 6 tribes who are engaged with economic development with companies from foreign countries. This legislation allows the tribes in the program to develop their own guidelines for leasing, including provisions to protect the environment. The secretary would then approve those guidelines and the tribes would be allowed to operate under those guidelines without required secretarial approval for subsequent leases. These reforms have been in place for the Navajo Nation since 2000 and have helped spur development on their reservation.