Sen. Barrasso vows fast action on NIGC pick Jonodev Chaudhuri

Jonodev Chaudhuri. Photo from Twitter

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee will vote next week on Jonodev Chaudhuri to serve as chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the chairman of the committee, promised to move quickly after taking testimony from Chaudhuri, a member of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma, at a confirmation hearing yesterday. The agency has been without a Senate-confirmed leader since September 2013.

“An industry with this amount of money flow requires the commission to be appropriately staffed," Barrasso said, referring to the $28 billion in revenues generated in Indian Country.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana), the vice chair of the committee, also vowed support for Chaudhuri. He had tried to get the nomination through in December was unable to do so before the end of the last session of Congress.

"I urge this Congress to move all nominations forward without unnecessary delays and avoid leaving important positions unfilled or under interim leadership for an extended period of time," Tester said in a press release after the hearing yesterday.

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Nomination Hearing to consider Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, of Arizona, to be Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission

Chaudhuri joined the NIGC in September 2013 as vice chair and has served as acting chairman since then. The agency has not seen an interruption in work but he said the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act envisions a permanent leader.

"There is a need to have confirmed chairman," Chaudhuri told the committee. "IGRA contemplates a confirmed chairman -- one nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. It's essentially a constitutional officer that needs to be running an agency of the NIGC's importance."

IGRA requires some matters -- such as appeals of certain decision -- to be heard before a full commission of three members. Currently, the NIGC is down to just two -- the other is Dan Little, an associate commissioner.

"We've done what we've could," Chaudhuri said, "but we need a confirmed chairman for stability and for the persuasive authority that the constitutional officer provides in the chair position."

Next week's vote will take place at a business meeting on March 18. If Chaudhuri is approved, the full Senate will be able to take action on the nomination.

Yesterday's hearing lasted about 40 minutes. Audio can be found on the Indianz.Com SoundCloud.

Committee Notices:
Business Meeting to consider S. 35, S. 438, S. 465 and the NIGC Chairman Nomination (March 18, 2015)
Nomination Hearing to consider Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, of Arizona, to be Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission (March 11, 2015)

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Obama re-submits nomination for Jonodev Chaudhuri at NIGC (01/09)
Sen. Tester vows quick action on NIGC pick Jonodev Chaudhuri (11/13)

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