Washington D.C – The legislation would swap more than twenty four hundred acres of copper rich land for more than five thousand acres of new public lands. Resolution Copper - a British and Australian company - would run the mines. That has critics asking why should federal land go to boost economies overseas?' But Flagstaff Republican Congressman Paul Gosar says the project will create thousands of local jobs too.
"You're actually seeing this in Superior. You're seeing them investing in people, you're seeing people with jobs, you're seeing people all the way around, from Native Americans to locals, being hired."
Local tribes have challenged the legislation arguing it interferes with their sacred lands. On the House floor, Florida Democrat Alcee Hastings defended tribal opposition. He told Gosar what's most disturbing about the bill
" is a complete lack of respect for scared Native American sites that will be swept into mining operations."
The House has okayed the parameters for debating the bill and lawmakers are expected to begin debating amendments this week.
For Arizona Public Radio, I'm Matt Laslo in Washington.