In rare move, House rejects two suspension bills

House Republicans have very occasionally brought up suspension bills that failed, in an apparent attempt to reveal Democratic opposition. But it has been several months since the last failed suspension, and two in one night is rare.

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The first bill, the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act, was rejected after a debate in which several Democrats took to the floor to oppose the bill. They argued that the bill, H.R. 2362, appears to give Turkey special privileges above other countries, even though Turkey has a bad record of human rights and is becoming more hostile to Israel.

"This bill is unnecessary, and seeks to give special consideration to one country, Turkey," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) argued. "As a country that has shown both negative and aggressive actions towards a number of our allies, Turkey should not be given investment preferences in Indian tribal lands through this bill.

"This bill would reward a country with a record of human rights and religious freedom violations," she added.

Some Democrats argued in favor of it, noting that U.S. Indian populations have extremely high unemployment rates, which could be lowered with more investment from Turkey.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who sponsored the bill, also called on his colleagues to support it, and said the bill does not only allow Turkey to invest in U.S. Indian tribes, but that so far, only Turkey has stepped forward.

"I wish other countries were beating down my door to want to go do work on Indian reservations," he said. "They aren't."

But the House rejected the bill in a 222-160 vote — a majority, but far short of the two-thirds majority vote needed for passage.

Forty-two Republicans voted against it, along with 118 Democrats.

Immediately after, the House voted down S. 2039 in a roll call vote. The bill, which allows North Dakota to constructs levees on certain properties designated as open space lands, was rejected 126-254, even though the Senate approved it by unanimous consent back in January.

Members did approve H.R. 3477, a bill naming a post office, in a unanimous 379-0 vote.