From the Detroit Free Press:
A fight over proposed American Indian casinos in Romulus and Port Huron may reach the floor of Congress this week, where two Michigan political heavyweights find themselves on opposite sides of the issue.
The proposals — which could be on the floor as early as Wednesday — have a fair shot at passing, despite loud objections from Detroit politicians who fear new casinos could cut into the take of the city’s three gaming emporiums and undercut investments their owners have made.
Even if the House approves, however, the proposals face a big obstacle in the Senate — Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is said to be opposed to the legislation that has been simmering in Washington for at least six years.
The difference now is the strong support for the Romulus casino from Rep. John Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat who is the longest-serving active member of the House and chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.
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Never mind the Senate, this one’s going to be ugly. I wonder how many times Abramoff’s name gets mentioned. Here’s the report from The Hill:
House Democratic leaders have brokered a deal to bring to the floor next week a contentious Indian gaming bill that has pitted two powerful Democratic committee chairmen against one another.
For months, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) have been clashing over two bills that would settle tribal land disputes and allow two new Indian casinos to be built near Detroit. Next week, they will settle their differences on the House floor.
The deal would allow the two tribal land dispute bills that Dingell supports to be voted on on the floor, but would also give Conyers an amendment, according to sources tracking the measures. The amendment apparently would direct the Department of Justice (DoJ) and possibly the Department of the Interior to review the land claims — a difficult and likely unsuccessful process Dingell and other supporters have attempted to avoid by seeking congressional approval of the legislation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders are in a politically difficult spot.
They have decided to allot precious floor time for measures that will pave the way for Indian casinos during the first election year after the fall of Jack Abramoff, whose lobbying practices involving tribes and gambling helped propel Democrats into power in 2006.
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