Commentary: Feinstein, Pelosi must halt casino power play

Congress has a sordid history of quietly slipping riders into appropriations bills that have serious implications, and it appears to be on the verge of a doozy that would have direct implications for California.

At the behest of Indian tribes and their lobbyists, some members of Congress are seeking a "fix" to a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision that cast doubt on the federal government's authority to permit some bands of Indians to create new reservation land.

In Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri v. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar, the court held that the Interior Department can take land into trust on behalf of tribes only if those tribes were under federal jurisdiction as of 1934 when Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act.

California is home to 109 tribes, far more than any other state. Some were organized after 1934. Newly reconstituted bands are seeking formal recognition from the U.S. Interior Department. Once recognized, tribes will seek reservation land where none currently exists. In California, that means new casinos.

California voters have spoken repeatedly that tribes have a right to own casinos. California is well on its way to becoming the biggest gambling state in the union.

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