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Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole says NFL's Redskins should change name

Also in Washington notes: Sen. Tom Coburn says money being wasted in Congress for hair cuts, leased vehicles and documents no one reads
by Chris Casteel Published: June 2, 2013
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— Rep. Tom Cole and nine other lawmakers sent letters last week to the owner of the Washington Redskins and NFL and FedEx officials urging that the name of the professional football team be changed because it is offensive to Native Americans.

“Native Americans throughout the country consider the term ‘redskin' a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word' among African Americans or the ‘W-word' among Latinos,'' the letters state.

“Such offensive epithets would no doubt draw widespread disapproval among the NFL's fan base. Yet the national coverage of Washington's NFL football team profits from a term that is equally disparaging to Native Americans.”

Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, is also co-sponsoring a bill that would cancel the federal registration of trademarks that use the word “redskin” in reference to Native Americans.

“As an NFL fan, I have always admired the Washington NFL franchise for its professionalism and excellence,” Cole said in a statement. “However, like most Native Americans, I find the name of the franchise to be insensitive and offensive.”

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has for years rejected demands to change the team name, which goes back to its days as a Boston franchise. The team plays at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters in February, “I don't think anybody wants to offend anybody. But this has been discussed over a long period of time. I think Dan Snyder and the organization have made it very clear that they are proud of that name and that heritage, and I think the fans are, too.”

Among the other lawmakers signing the letters was Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn.

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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Coburn takes aim at Congressional waste

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, who has been urging federal agencies for months to cut waste and duplication before furloughing employees or slashing essential services, has now turned his sights on Congress. Congress' budget has grown by 72 percent since 2000 and stood at $4.3 billion last year, according to Coburn, who said some of that money went to:

• Taxpayer-subsidized shampoos and shoe shines at Senate Hair Care, which received about $400,000 in public funds last year;

• Classes to help Senate staff members deal with “exhaustion and lack of clarity”;

• Allowing members of Congress to lease vehicles costing up to $1,000 per month;

• Publishing unnecessary and wasteful documents at the Government Printing Office, which received $126 million in the last fiscal year;

• Subsidies nearing $3,000 a year for Senate staff members to use public transit in Washington;

• Programs like the Open World Leadership Center and Stennis Center for Public Service that duplicate other federal programs and cost more than $10 million combined last year.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Coburn said he had reduced his own staff by seven positions last year and returned nearly $243,000 that had been allotted for his office. Coburn said Congress should lead by example.

“We cannot expect everyone else in America to pay the price of Congress' failure to set priorities,'' Coburn wrote.

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