Congress coming back into session after the long campaign break means quick legislative action — against the Washington Redskins.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) introduced on Wednesday a bill to amend section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code to “prohibit tax-exempt status for professional sports leagues that promote or allow a member club or franchise connected to that league to benefit from the Washington football team name, a derogatory term that has officially been found offensive.”
It’s companion legislation to a bill filed in the upper chamber by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).
The lawmakers are encouraged by Federal Communication Commission consideration of a petition to ban the use of “Redskins” on the air.
Over the summer, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Redskins’ trademark; the team has appealed. Norton says the ruling has “the potential to affect the profits received from the sale of the team’s merchandise.”
“Over 300 tribes and two million Native Americans, as well as religious and human rights organizations, have called on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Daniel Snyder, the Washington football team owner, to change the name of the Washington football team because the name and mascot insult native people. In addition, several media outlets around the country no longer print or use the term ‘Redskins’ when referring to the Washington football team because the term is offensive,” Norton said on the House floor Wednesday when introducing her bill.
“American taxpayers have been subsidizing a multibillion dollar league that promotes what has now been officially found to be a racial slur for profitable gain,” she continued. “Relief from taxes should no longer be given to a league that profits from the continued use of a racial slur, which degrades some Americans.”
“As an organization that enjoys tax-exempt benefits, the NFL also has a duty to American taxpayers to ensure that its teams are not promoting or benefiting from a racial slur. This bill would revoke the tax-exempt status of professional sports leagues that choose to continue to use the offensive and derogatory term ‘Redskins.’”
The bill only revokes the tax-exempt status of leagues that use the term Redskins, Norton, added, and would not affect other leagues that fall under the same 501(c)(6) tax exemption.