WATCH: NFL kneeling controversy upped support for closing stadium loophole, GOP rep says

The recent controversy over NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem helped garner support for a measure to end federal subsidies used by professional sports franchises to build stadiums, according to one of its backers in the House. 

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Small-government advocates already supported the measure co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Russel said. But following “the disrespect to our national colors,” he told The Hill, “it gained some support because of that.” 

Russell’s provision, included in the House-passed tax reform bill, would ban the NFL from using municipal bonds to pay for stadiums tax-free. 

“We need to preserve municipal bonds for what they were originally intended for ... does anyone really think that professional sports franchises lack capital? They don’t, and people in Oklahoma, or in New Hampshire don’t need to be paying for something in Nevada,” Russell said. 

He predicts it’s “very likely” that the provision — with a similar version in the other chamber co-sponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) — will end up in a final tax-reform deal, noting that the savings could amount to nearly $4 billion.