Trump tweet stalls Wampanoag bill

A tweet by President Trump uprooted the strategy of legislators who aim to save Mashpee Wampanoag plans for a $1 billion casino in Taunton.

“Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren. It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!” said Trump in a tweet.

Democrats responded by pulling back the bill, which was scheduled for a full House vote. The bipartisan bill, which required a two-thirds majority to pass, would have granted reservation status to land controlled by the tribe, and paved the way for the opening of a casino on the property.

Rep. William Keating, a lead sponsor of the legislation, tweeted that Trump had signed a similar bill for another tribe last year. “So why tweet against a bill recognizing the tribe of the first Thanksgiving? Because of his well-documented alliance with the RI casino lobbyist. A weak attempt to hide corrupt influence in a racist tweet.”

The lobbyist Keating was referring to is Matt Schlapp, a Trump adviser and husband of Trump’s director of strategic communications. One of Schlapp’s lobbying clients is Twin River Management Group, which owns the Twin River and Tiverton casinos in Rhode Island, which would be in direct competition with the Wampanoag casino. Keating called the move by Trump “disgusting.”

Warren, who cosponsored a Senate version of the legislation, could not be reached for comment.

The tribe has faced a long struggle in getting its casino project to move forward. The Interior Department granted reservation status to the tribe’s land in 2015, but that decision was overturned in 2016 by a lawsuit brought by local property owners.

With Trump’s tweet foiling the plan to push through the bill quickly via a suspension of House rules, lawmakers say they will now attempt to pass the bill through the regular legislative process. “This delay won’t be long,” Keating said.



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