Turkish-Native American Trade Bill One Vote From Passing House
On November 17 the House Committee on Natural Resources voted 27-15 to pass the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Act, H.R. 2362, which will now be reported favorably to the House for a final vote. G. Lincoln McCurdy, President of the Turkish Coalition of America, called the bipartisan vote amajor step forward in enacting the first positive legislation toward Turkey in recent memory. “For the last two years,” said McCurdy, “Turkey and Native American tribes have been developing a unique international relationship that promises to help create jobs and spur economic development in both Indian Country and Turkey. The Natural Resources Committee today voted to support sound policy and respect the economic interests of Native American tribes. This is a historic step forward.” Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, championed the bill during the committee markup, telling committee members that as Native American tribes are sovereign nations within a sovereign nation, they should be allowed to choose their business partners. Bill supporters successfully argued that Turkey and Turkish companies were the only foreign entities to express an interest in working with Native American tribes, and that if thepilot program is successful, it could easily be expanded to include other countries. “Even though this legislation has not yet been enacted,” said McCurdy, “debate in Congress this month has helped to increase knowledge about a robust and modern Turkey and the challenging economic realities that Indian Country still must deal with. Wehope that this legislation, if passed before the end of the year, will make a positive difference in 2012.” H.R. 2362, if passed by the full House, will establish a limited demonstration project that willauthorize up to six tribes or tribal consortia to partner with Turkish companies to establish commercial ties without requiring federal governmentapproval. Turkish companies’ interest in working with Indian Country, coupled with their strengths in construction, uniquely positions them to help spur private-sector economic growth and create jobs. The activities authorized by the legislation would be funded by private-sector entities, without any expenditure of federal funds.