Politicians have played a major role in applying pressure on the Washington Redskins to change their name.
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The political winds on the team’s name have shifted significantly over the last several years. Members weren’t focused on the issue in prior years, but now many of them are, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Both Reid and Pelosi told The Hill first that the Redskins needed a name change, but the biggest news event for critics of the team’s moniker happened in the fall of 2013 when President Obama tackled the issue. He said, “If I were the owner of the team and I knew that the name of my team — even if they’ve had a storied history — was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”
The Redskins have fired back at members, including Reid, and have cited polling showing that most Native Americans don’t back a name change. The team and backers of the Redskins keeping their name have mocked lawmakers for zeroing in on this issue instead of other matters facing the country.