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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

Rep. Tom Cole said Tuesday a bill he wrote to help foreign businesses invest in American Indian tribes failed because of “grievances” in some ethnic communities about Turkey.

Cole's bill, which would have established some test projects for foreign investments on Indian land through an expedited process, garnered well more than a majority of the House members voting on Monday night. But the 222-160 vote didn't reach the two-thirds threshold necessary for bills on the fast-track process.

In an interview Tuesday, Cole, R-Moore, said he would try to reintroduce it next year. The opposition, he said, was rooted in “grievances with Turkey that have absolutely nothing to do with the legislation.”

Cole, a Chickasaw who is among the strongest advocates in Congress for American Indians, crafted the bill to help Turkish businesses invest in Indian country. Turkish officials, he said, have been the only representatives from any country to approach him about economic development on Indian land.

Kinship with tribes

Many Turks feel a kinship to American Indians, he said, believing that they share the same Eurasian origins.

However, after Cole met some early resistance from lawmakers who have serious problems with Turkey, he changed the bill. Though it still mentions the country, the legislation doesn't favor any of the 155 member nations of the World Trade Organization, Cole said.

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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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