Indian Affairs Committee Advances Trump’s NIGC Chair Nominee >>

August 2nd, 2019

Indian Affairs Committee Advances Trump’s NIGC Chair Nominee

On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, during a brief business meeting, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) – by voice vote – approved President Trump’s nomination of Sequoyah Simermeyer to serve as Chair of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).

The business meeting was conducted one week after the SCIA held a hearing to review Mr. Simermeyer’s nomination. In his opening statement, Simermeyer stated that, if confirmed as Chair, he will: focus on preserving the NIGC’s and the Indian gaming industry’s integrity; work with tribal regulators to ensure they are prepared to protect against threats and take advantage of economic opportunities; ensure that the NIGC is accountable and transparent in all of its action; and continue work of the Commission to provide outreach and education to tribal regulators.

Committee Chairman John Hoeven (R-ND) cited more than dozen letters of support from tribal governments and organizations for Simermeyer’s nomination. He also noted the nominee’s experience as a former SCIA staffer, within the Interior Department, and his current position as NIGC Commissioner.

Vice Chair Tom Udall (D-NM) cited Simermeyer’s “strong grasp” of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and his hope that Simermeyer would safeguard the independence of the Commission from encroachments by both the Interior Department and the White House.

During the nomination hearing, Senator Udall pressed Simermeyer to take a position on the IGRA alternative compacting procedures, which the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down in a recent case involving the Pueblo of Pojaoque. Simermeyer deflected the question, stating that the NIGC is not involved in either the compact approval or alternative compacting procedure process. Udall urged Simermeyer, if confirmed, to use his position to ensure that states act in good faith with Native Nations on matters involving Indian gaming and work to guarantee that tribes are the primary stakeholders of Indian gaming revenues as IGRA intended.

If confirmed, Simermeyer would be the first Republican-appointed NIGC Chair since Phil Hogen who served a Chair for the bulk of the George W. Bush Administration. His nomination is now eligible for consideration by the full Senate.

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