OPINION | Chris McCarthy: Keating Resurrects Indian Casino
Congressman William Keating has filed legislation to save the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe's Taunton casino project, and he has bipartisan support.
Until this week, the odds of the Mashpee tribe completing the construction of a resort casino in Taunton were about the same as the Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl.
The project was sidelined by a federal lawsuit brought by Taunton residents. The tribe has reportedly racked up tremendous debt with a foreign company during the casino development process. The Trump administration is also reportedly hostile to Indian casinos, banks and other business that operate inside the U.S., but outside most U.S. regulations.
The debt and the legal process have caused the Cape Cod-based tribe to take drastic action. The construction at the Taunton site has been halted. The tribe's Taunton office has been shuttered and employees have been terminated.
But new legislation filed by Congressman Keating--who represents Cape Cod, but not Taunton--has changed the prospects of the tribe and its dream of a resort-style casino. The House is currently under Republican control, and nearly half of this bill's sponsors are Republicans. Among the co-sponsors Keating convinced to join him was Don Young of Alaska. Today, Congressman Young is the "Dean of the House Republicans," and the second-longest serving member of the people's body in Congress. Keating has Republicans from California and Florida with him in this debate as well.
The bill would preserve previous federal decisions that favored the Mashpee tribe, and protect the tribe from court decisions that hinder their projects.
How the Congress handles this new legislation remains to be seen. There are millions of investment dollars at stake, and thousands of jobs for the regional economy in the balance. Certainly, the contractors and the craftsmen working on the halted project are hoping the bill succeeds and they can go back to work.
Until this week, the Taunton project was dead. Congressman Keating has used his personal skills and reputation to put together a bipartisan coalition in the House on this issue.
Congressman Keating has also shown that it is possible to work in a bipartisan manner in Washington.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.