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Failure of Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole's bill to help American Indian tribes linked to animosity toward Turkey

A bill authored by Rep. Tom Cole to allow for foreign investment on American Indian land fails to get the votes necessary for passage after some lawmakers contend it would give preference to Turkey.
by Chris Casteel Published: July 25, 2012

But some lawmakers contended Monday night that the legislation still created trade preferences for Turkey, which they said was guilty of human rights violations.

Many lawmakers, including House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, have strong allegiances to Armenians, who were the victims of genocide at the hands of the of Turkey early in the 20th century.

The Armenian Assembly of America praised the defeat of Cole's bill and said the vote “upholds our cherished values and reaffirms America's commitment to human rights.”

In the debate on Monday, some lawmakers who advocate for Greek American issues raised the issue of the Turkish invasion of Cypress in 1974.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, said that Turkey “has systematically destroyed the island's Christian heritage and colonized the area with more than 200,000 settlers and 40,000 troops.”

Some lawmakers also contended that Congress recently passed a bill that would achieve the same goals of Cole's legislation on Indian land.

Cole said Tuesday that he respects the views of his colleagues but that they weren't relevant to his particular bill aimed at creating jobs in some of the nation's most impoverished communities.

“This is not something that's undoable, particularly if we work harder,'' he said.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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