November 30, 2010
On Tuesday, November 30, the House of Representatives passed the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, which authorizes nearly $4.6 billion to fund the settlements in two class-action discrimination lawsuits. The measure passed 256-152. It now goes to the President for his signature, ending a long, tortuous, but ultimately successful path to becoming law.
The lawsuits are Pigford v. Glickman, which would give $1.15 billion to black farmers who were discriminated against by USDA in the 1980s and 1990s; and Cobell v. Salazar, which would give $3.4 billion to Indian tribes whose trust accounts were mismanaged by the Department of Interior.
The bill also included resolution of tribal water rights claims for the White Mountain Apache, Crow, Taos Pueblo, and Aamodt Tribes, plus a one-year extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The bill will now be sent to the White House for President Obama’s signature, after which it will return to court to confirm the fairness of the settlement and establish distribution of funds to the class members.
The bill is identical to the Senate version passed earlier this month. To read NSAC’s analysis of the Senate bill, click here.
Representatives opposed to passage of the bill, such as Rep. Steve King (R-IA), repeatedly raised suspicions of fraud regarding the Pigford settlement. These suspicions were rejected by supporters of the bill, such as Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who added, “we did the wrong thing, and all of us acknowledge it is never too late to do the right thing.”
NSAC was pleased to publicly support the bill and to work behind the scenes to help gain passage. We applaud the Administration for pushing and the Senate and House for getting the job done, and our hats are off to the Network of Black Farm Groups and Advocates for their tireless quest for justice.
Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers