Amendment drafted for Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act in defense bill

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas). Photo from Facebook

Several Republican in the Senate are supporting an amendment to include the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act in a must-pass defense measure.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced the amendment on May 19. He's the sponsor of S.248, a bill that exempts tribes and their casinos from the National Labor Relations Act, treating them in a manner similar to states and the federal government.

While the committee has advanced S.248 to to the Senate floor, it has not been brought up for consideration. But inclusion of the measure in S.2943, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017, would mark a significant step forward for a bill that has been a top priority for Indian Country for more than a decade.

"Because Indian self-determination is the most successful federal policy in history, we sought to ensure tribes – not the federal government --- have maximum authority to design and manage their own law enforcement, health, forestry, timber, energy, economic development, and other programs," Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a retired U.S. Senator whose lobbying and policy firm represents the National Indian Gaming Association, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, wrote in Indian Country Today.

It was Campbell who first noted the potential inclusion of the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act in the defense bill. The amendment has nine co-sponsors -- all Republicans.

The Senate is moving forward with S.2943 this week and Moran's amendment is among hundreds that have been drafted. There is no guarantee that it will be added to the bill, though.

The Obama administration already stated its opposition to the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act when the House passed H.R.511 last November. Most Democrats and labor unions are against it although some key Democrats are supporting it.

Moran's amendment is labeled SA 4066. The full text follows:
At the end of subtitle I of title X add the following:


Section 2 of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C.
152) is amended--

(1) in paragraph (2), by inserting ``or any enterprise or
institution owned and operated by an Indian tribe and located
on its Indian lands,'' after ``subdivision thereof''; and
(2) by adding at the end the following:

``(15) The term `Indian tribe' means any Indian tribe,
band, nation, pueblo, or other organized group or community
which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and
services provided by the United States to Indians because of
their status as Indians.

``(16) The term `Indian' means any individual who is a
member of an Indian tribe.

``(17) The term `Indian lands' means--

``(A) all lands within the limits of any Indian

``(B) any lands title to which is either held in trust by
the United States for the benefit of any Indian tribe or
individual or held by any Indian tribe or individual subject
to restriction by the United States against alienation; and

``(C) any lands in the State of Oklahoma that are within
the boundaries of a former reservation (as defined by the
Secretary of the Interior) of a federally recognized Indian

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