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Feinstein Responds to Indian Country Today Media Network

To the editor:

Your article, “Feinstein’s New Bill: It’s a Travesty” (April 9) does a disservice to your readers by carelessly mischaracterizing my recent legislation to reform casino gaming on tribal land.

Let me be clear: The Tribal Gaming Eligibility Act makes no changes to the right of tribes to open new casinos on existing in trust land, on contiguous land, or on land near where tribes currently live. Tribes still have every opportunity to pursue casino-related economic development miles away from their homeland, provided they consult their new neighbors.

As a former Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, increasing federal funding for health, education, and law enforcement programs in Indian Country was a top priority. Under my leadership, funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs increased $400 million between 2008-2010, while the budget for the Indian Health Service increased by $700 million during the same period.

Our bill respects tribal sovereignty while addressing the rights and concerns of communities that may not welcome new casinos. I look forward to working together to achieve fair and meaningful reform in casino licensing.

Dianne Feinstein
U.S. Senator, California