Congress Punts on Redskins Name

by Hannah Hess, Roll Call
November 14, 2013

Capitol Hill efforts to force Washington’s National Football League franchise to change its name remain stalled, even as President Barack Obama welcomes tribal leaders to the White House this week to launch the administration’s Council on Native American Affairs.

Democrats representing large swaths of the team’s fan base are split on whether Congress should use its power to force the franchise to change its name, which supporters say is not intended to denigrate anyone. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., has been leading the charge against the moniker, which she deems a “disparaging” ethnic slur, even voicing her opposition on ESPN. She and Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards, whose district is home to the team’s FedEx Field, both support a bill aimed at changing the 81-year-old name.

Fellow Maryland Democratic Reps. John Delaney and Chris Van Hollen believe the best approach to the decadeslong controversy would be for the team to voluntarily change its name.

The president said during an Oct. 4 interview that if he were the owner of the team, he would consider changing the name to avoid offending Native Americans. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., echoed Obama.

“I think it would be wise and appropriate for Dan Snyder to consider changing the name,” Hoyer said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “I expect there will continue to be conversations that lead to resolution on this issue, and I would encourage those conversations to occur in a timely manner.”

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