Senate Approves $4.6 Billion for Claims by Black Farmers, American Indians
The U.S. Senate yesterday approved spending $4.6 billion to settle two lawsuits: one by black farmers who alleged racial discrimination by government lenders and the other by 300,000 American Indians who said they had been cheated out of land royalties dating to 1887.
Passage of the measure, by voice vote, unblocks a legislative logjam that has thwarted payouts, negotiated by the Obama administration, of $1.15 billion to the black farmers and $3.4 billion to the American Indians.
“We are one step closer to ensuring that the black farmers and Native Americans in these suits are fully compensated for past failures of judgment by the government,” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in a statement after the Senate vote. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said he hopes to seek a vote after Congress returns from a week-long recess on Nov. 29.
President Barack Obama praised the Senate action and urged the House to move forward with the bill “as they did last year.”
The House included the funding in war supplemental legislation it passed this summer, but it must vote on the settlements again. The Senate version of the war supplemental did not contain the funding to settle the lawsuits because Republicans objected to the proposed financing method, saying it added to the deficit.