Some of you know my sister, Jen. Some of you have played with her in the WWdN. She's trying to do her part to knock some sense into our Representatives, starting with her own, Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz. She emailed him to ask why they were spending so much time on a small issue when there are more important issues in the world, and to ask why he was in support of the bill at all. Here's his response (surprisingly, it doesn't read like a form letter!):
Thank you for taking the time to contact me to express your frustration with the legislative calendar and the online gambling legislation. It is always a pleasure hearing from you, and I am pleased to have this opportunity to respond.
I share your concern with the legislative calendar. I agree we should be working on matters of national security, the Iraq war, our skyrocketing deficit, and immigration reform. Unfortunately, my Democratic colleagues and I have no control of the legislative schedule. Rather, the Republican Majority Leader and Speaker of the House of Representatives stipulate what measures the Congress will consider, and this Congress has met fewer days than any Congress in 50 years. It is my sincere hope that we begin working on serious matters once the August recess period concludes.
As you mentioned, I voted in support of H.R. 4411. Congress has consistently found that States should have the primary responsibility for determining what forms of gambling may legally take place within their border and the Federal government should prevent interference by one State with the gambling policies of another. Gambling on the Internet has increasingly become an extremely lucrative business that falls into the federal government's role in preventing interference by one state with the practices of another. Additionally, the internet's ease of accessibility and anonymous nature make it difficult to prevent underage gambling and worldwide internet gambling sites offer organized crime groups another avenue to launder the proceeds of their criminal activity.
In regard to the exemptions for certain activities, the reason for that was due to previously passed legislation, such as the Interstate Horseracing Act (Pub. L. No. 95-515), the Travel Act (Pub. L. No. 87-228), and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (Pub. L. No. 100-497).
Again, I appreciate you contacting me to express your frustration with the online gambling legislation. I will keep your views in mind should the measure come before the full House for a vote once more. Please visit my website at http://ortiz.house.gov to learn more about my views on other issues and legislation, and do not hesitate to contact me regarding any issue at the federal level.
Solomon P. Ortiz
Member of Congress