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White House slams Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act ahead of vote

Filed Under: Legislation
More on: 114th, barack obama, employment, h.r.511, house, nlra, nlrb, omb, rules, sovereignty, white house

President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, on November 15, 2015. National Security Advisior Susan E. Rice listens at left. Photo by Pete Souza / White House

UPDATE: The House voted 249 to 177 on Tuesday afternoon to pass H.R.511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act.

The Obama administration is opposing a bill that would exempt tribes and their enterprises from federal labor law.

H.R.511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, is due for a vote today. But President Barack Obama won't support the measure because the White House Office of Management and Budget said it doesn't offer enough protections to tribal employees, the majority of whom are non-Indians.

According to the White House, some tribes have negotiated Class III gaming compacts and have enacted laws that protect the rights of their workers. Only those tribes should be exempt from the National Labor Relations Act, the OMB said in a statement of administration policy issued ahead of the vote.

"It is thus possible to protect both tribal sovereignty and workers' rights, and the administration can only support approaches that accomplish that result," the statement read. "Therefore, the administration can support a bill which recognizes tribal sovereignty in formulating labor relations law and exempts tribes from the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board only if the tribes adopt labor standards and procedures applicable to tribally-owned and operated commercial enterprises reasonably equivalent to those in the National Labor Relations Act."

The statement marks the second time this year that the Obama administration has opposed a stand-alone Indian bill. Just last month, the White House slammed H.R.538, the Native American Energy Act, but it passed the House anyway with the support of Republicans.

H.R.511 is poised to do the same this afternoon. The bill bars the National Labor Relations Board from asserting jurisdiction at tribal enterprises, mainly gaming facilities, reversing a controversial 2004 administrative ruling that has come under fire in the federal courts and in Congress.

The House Rules Committee finalized H.R.511 for consideration after a meeting on Monday. The bill will be brought up this afternoon, according to the majority leader's schedule.

From the Indianz.Com Archive:
Tribal labor law rider killed by wide margin in House (June 27, 2005)
NCAI between 'rock and a hard place' on labor rider (September 13, 2004)
Tribal labor amendment fails in House vote (September 13, 2004)
Federal labor board expands jurisdiction over tribes (June 4, 2004)

Related Stories:
Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act heads toward passage in House (11/16)
House gears up for consideration of Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (10/27)
Key Democrat defends support for Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (10/20)
NCAI pushes for court rehearing in tribal labor sovereignty case (09/01)
Lawmakers advance Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act in House (07/23)
Dennis Whittlesey: Judges disagree on labor law at casinos (07/23)
Lawmakers show support for Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (07/22)
House committee markup for Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (07/20)

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