Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is pressing the House Energy and Commerce Committee for a hearing on use of the term 'Redskins' for Washington's National Football League team.
Waxman, the committee's top Democrat, sent a letter to committee chair Fred Upton, R-Mich., stating that the 'Offensive remarks by Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association, have raised public awareness of racism in sports.'
'I am writing to ask you to hold a hearing to examine another instance of racial insensitivity in professional sports: the use of the derogatory term 'Redskins' as the name of the Washington football team.'
Sterling was recently banned for life from the National Basketball Association and ordered to sell his team last week after he was caught on tape making racially insensitive comments about African-Americans.
Native-American groups and several lawmakers have been trying to pressure the NFL and Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team's name, saying that it's offensive to Native-Americans.
President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., political polar opposites, have both spoken favorably about changing the team's name. But Snyder has said it won't happen under his ownership.
'We will never change the name of the team,' he told USA Today Sports last year. 'As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it's all about and what it means.'
He added: 'We'll never change the name. It's that simple. NEVER - you can use caps.'
In his letter to Upton, Waxman equated the word 'Redskins' to the N-word that African-Americans find offensive. He suggests that if Snyder the NFL don't move to change the name, Congress could take steps to pressure a change.
'The NFL gets substantial tax benefits as a 'nonprofit' corporation, and its teams often receive billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded stadium subsidies,' Waxman wrote. 'As the committee with primary jurisdiction over professional sports, we could play a constructive role in challenging racism by asking Mr. Snyder and (NFL Commissioner Roger) Goodell to explain in a public hearing how their actions are consistent with the public interest.'