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Mass. Lawmakers Fume After Trump Stalls Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Bill With A Tweet

A wooden sign advises motorists of the location of Mashpee Wampanoag tribal lands in Massachusetts. (Steven Senne/AP)
A wooden sign advises motorists of the location of Mashpee Wampanoag tribal lands in Massachusetts. (Steven Senne/AP)

Massachusetts lawmakers in Washington say they will move forward next week with a vote on a bill involving Taunton tribal land after a sudden tweet by President Trump opposing the measure spurred Democrats to halt a vote on it Wednesday.

The measure, which has bipartisan support, would protect Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe land in trust, clearing the way for plans for a new casino.

But just as it was to set for a vote under a fast-track provision that requires a two-thirds majority to pass, Trump tweeted against it, calling it unfair.

Rep. William Keating, the bill’s lead sponsor, shot back, saying Trump's opposition was about protecting White House ally Matt Schlapp, a Republican lobbyist and husband of Trump’s communications director. Schlapp represents Twin River Management Group, which owns two casinos in Rhode Island that would compete with the planned Taunton casino.

“Trump signed an identical bill last year. So why tweet against a bill recognizing the tribe of the first Thanksgiving? Because of his well-documented alliance with the RI casino lobbyist,” the Bourne Democrat tweeted.

Rep. Joe Kennedy, a co-sponsor of the bill, called Trump’s tweet corrupt and misleading.

"To have this process play out the way it did with the amount to misinformation and what appears to be just blatant corruption ... it's disheartening, to say the least, and disgusting is probably a more adequate characterization," Kennedy, a Democrat, told WBUR.

Lawmakers say the measure will go to a vote next week under regular order, where it will require only a simple majority.

Kennedy said Trump's repeated slur at Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, reflects the fact that, "he doesn't want to run against her," in the 2020 presidential election.

Related:

Kimberly Atkins Twitter Senior News Correspondent
Kimberly Atkins is a senior news correspondent for WBUR, covering national political news from Washington, D.C., with a New England focus.

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