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Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 2362, the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011. My reasons for opposing this ill-conceived and unnecessary legislation are spelled out in a dear colleague I issued with several of my colleagues, and which I submit for the record. I urge all of my colleagues to vote ``no'' on H.R. 2362.

VOTE NO ON H.R. 2362

DEAR COLLEAGUE: We urge you to oppose H.R. 2362, the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011, when it is considered on the House floor today. This bill provides for investment activities by WTO member nations in a select number of Indian tribal lands, with implied special consideration for Turkish businesses. Although the bill ostensibly applies equally to all WTO member nations, its Findings section exclusively discusses Turkey's relations with Native Americans, alleging that Turkey has ``demonstrated a unique interest in bolstering cultural, political, and economic relationships with Indian tribes and tribal members''--without explaining the nature of this ``unique interest.'' Moreover, in both the operative and non-operative sections of the bill, the concept of ``all WTO member nations'' is expressed as ``Turkey and other World Trade Organization member nations''--an odd description that, if adopted by Congress, would suggest that the United States, for no apparent reason, prefers Turkish investment in tribal areas over that from other WTO member nations.

Turkey is an important NATO ally, but we are concerned about the prospect of singling out Turkey for special consideration at a time when Ankara is pursuing so many objectionable policies. For example:

Turkey recognizes the terrorist Hamas government in Gaza and even received its leader in the Turkish parliament earlier this year--disturbing hypocrisy from a state that receives U.S. support for its own fight against terrorism. Turkey also demands that Israel end its naval blockade of Gaza, despite the deadly security threat Hamas poses to Israel. Turkey's repeated, flagrant criticism of Israel is particularly troubling and potentially destabilizing.

As a member of the UN Security Council two years ago, Turkey voted against sanctions on Iran.

For 38 years, Turkey has illegally occupied the northern third of the island Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union. More recently, Turkey has threatened the use of force to stop Texas-based Noble Energy from drilling for oil and gas off the shores of EU-member Cyprus and to blacklist any businesses that work with Cyprus for natural resource extraction.

Turkey continues to deny the Armenian Genocide during which 1.5 million Armenians perished and has threatened punitive measures against the United States if Congress recognizes this tragic event. Since 1993 Turkey has maintained a destabilizing blockade of Armenia.

On July 19, Congress sent H.R. 205 to the President for signature into law. That bill, known as the HEARTH Act, provides that all Native American tribes, not just a few, would have the right to lease tribal lands for economic development purposes to any party, domestic or foreign--not just to Turkish parties. H.R. 205 would also maintain traditional federal government oversight of economic use of tribal lands; in contrast, H.R. 2362 would limit that oversight for the tribal lands to which it would apply. But, even at it is best, H.R. 2362--with its focus on only a few tribal areas and its implied preference for Turkish investment--is redundant and an unusual, unprecedented, and unnecessary endorsement of a state that, though an ally, continues to pursue problematic policies.

We encourage you to vote no on H.R. 2362.

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