Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) will introduce legislation aimed at eliminating the NFL's tax-exempt status, she announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
Cantwell's motivation for introducing the legislation is the league's continued inaction against the Washington Redskins name.
“The NFL needs to join the rest of Americans in the 21st century,” she said, according to The Washington Post. “It is about right and wrong.”
The press conference was called by the Native American coalition Change the Mascot, which has sent a letter to 31 NFL owners urging them to take action that could lead to the Redskins name being changed.
Washington owner Dan Snyder was the only owner to whom the letter was not sent.
The letter, one of which was obtained by the Washington Post, highlights a section of the NFL's bylaws that grants the league power to discipline any owner guilty of "conduct detrimental to the welfare of the League or professional football."
The letter says Snyder has exhibited such conduct by promoting "this racial slur."
The team's name has increasingly come under scrutiny from Native American groups, lawmakers, media members and other observers, who say the name is offensive and racist toward the Native American community. Defenders of the name, including Snyder, say it honors Native Americans as well as the team's history.
In June, The United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations for the Redskins. Multiple print and television media members and publications have decided not to use the name.
A letter signed by 50 U.S. senators and endorsed by majority leader Harry Reid urged NFL leadership to press for a name change.
Redskins president Bruce Allen responded with his own letter. "With over 81 years of tradition created by thousands of alumni and millions of fans, the Redskins team name continues to carry a deep and purposeful meaning," he wrote.
Snyder has repeatedly said he will never change the name.
- Chris Johnson