GOP lawmaker optimistic NCAA bill will be signed into law this year

Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerOn The Money: House passes sweeping budget, debt limit deal | Dem court filing defends powers to get Trump's NY tax returns | Debt collectors to pay M to settle consumer bureau charges House passes sweeping budget, debt limit deal Romney to vote against budget deal: Agreement 'perpetuates fiscal recklessness' MORE (R-N.C.) on Tuesday said he fully expects Congress to pass a bipartisan bill that would allow NCAA athletes to profit off their image and likeness.

Walker this month introduced legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Cedric RichmondCedric Levon RichmondHouse Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Embattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Democratic lawmakers support Bustos after DCCC resignations MORE (D-La.) that would upend the NCAA’s economic model by amending the tax code's definition of an amateur to allow student-athletes to get paid whenever they appear in videos or other forms of public media.

“This is not a show piece of legislation," he told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball. “This is something that I think is very important.”

Walker said he expects the bill will have no trouble passing the House and Senate and that “hopefully” President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE will sign it into law by the end of the year.

Walker added that over the past decade the Republican Party has gotten a “bad reputation” on social justice issues. But he pushed back on that perception, citing the Trump administration’s reforms on criminal justice and his NCAA bill as two counterexamples.

“If you look at the work that we’ve done in the injustice arena — working on criminal justice reform, both at the national level and some of our governors at the state level —this is another one of those areas because many of these student-athletes come from impoverished or underprivileged communities, and making the kind of money that the NCAA does on the backs of unpaid labor.”

The NCAA has faced multiple legal challenges in recent years as advocates push to expand the rights of student-athletes and allow them to receive outside pay.

A federal judge recently ruled that the NCAA can no longer prevent schools from capping the educational benefits they give to players. But the ruling stopped short of requiring the NCAA to change its model, meaning players still won’t be able to receive compensation.

—Tess Bonn