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Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Clarification Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCLINTOCK. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Grijalva) stated the facts very clearly. In the 1950s, the Federal Government condemned and seized land and water rights owned by the Tohono O'odham Indian Nation. In 1986, Congress settled the tribe's outstanding claims by agreeing, in part, to take into trust replacement land that the Tohono O'odham might acquire under specific conditions. The tribe has acquired a particular parcel meeting all of the conditions set forth in the law and asserted its rightful claim under that law. This bill retroactively and fundamentally alters that settlement, breaking the promises the Tohono O'odham have relied upon as they've spent many years and millions of dollars acquiring this parcel and planning the project.

Now, why in the world would we want to do such a thing? Well, it's obvious. Like many tribes, the Tohono O'odham want to build a casino on this land. This casino would compete with another tribe's casino in the region, and that tribe doesn't want the competition. Competition is so annoying and inconvenient. It requires offering your customers a better service at a lower price. Tohono O'odham seeks to do that. The other tribe doesn't want to.

So that other tribe, which has a monopoly on gaming in the Phoenix area, created a front made up of antigambling 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. They don't have a leg to stand on in court. What is left? Well, of course. Get Congress to break its promise, which is why we're all here tonight.

Let's be very clear about what passing this bill would mean. Many in this House have widely criticized the President for killing thousands of jobs to satisfy his ideological opposition to the Keystone pipeline. Well, this bill does exactly the same thing. It kills 6,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent, ongoing service jobs by blocking this project on ideological grounds. But the damage only begins there. Federal taxpayers will become liable for hundreds of millions of dollars of economic damages to compensate the Tohono O'odham for lost profits, for the devaluation of their property, and for years of planning suddenly rendered worthless by this act.

So what's the balance sheet here? On the plus side, we satisfy the ideological itch of antigaming busybodies and antigrowth zealots, and we protect a gambling monopoly in Phoenix from any competition. On the minus side, we
destroy 6,000 construction jobs, 3,000 service 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, but there's nothing in it to laugh about.


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