from blue wave news

Native Americans, Black Farmers Granted $4.58 Billion in Senate Settlement of Discrimination Cases
On November 20, 2010, at 2:11 am, In Policy, Politics-House, Politics-Senate,
By Leanne.

Justice delayed is not always justice denied, as the U.S. Senate proved today when it approved large settlements for Native Americans and black farmers.

Each group has separately sued the federal government. Native Americans were looking for compensation for mishandling of the trust accounts of individual Indians, while black farmers sought justice for years of racial discrimination by the USDA in the approval process for farm loans.

“Black farmers and Native American trust account holders have had to wait a long time for justice, but now it will finally be served,” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement after the vote. “I am heartened that Democrats and Republicans were able to come together to deliver the settlement that these men and women deserve for the discrimination and mismanagement they faced in the past.”

Native Americans involved in the land trust lawsuit will get access to a $3.4 billion fund. Black farmers who are a part of a class-action lawsuit against the USDA will receive a $1.15 billion settlement.

“It’s long, long overdue,” said John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association. “Many farmers have died waiting for justice. Hopefully, we can get this money to those who are living.”The bill, which has twice been approved by the House, will need to be green-lighted by that body one more time. That vote is set to take place after the Thanksgiving break.

True to form, Republican senators were responsible for delaying the approval of this sentiment.

The House has approved money for both settlements twice this year — first in a war supplemental bill, then in a tax extenders bill — but the financing was stripped in the Senate over concerns about spending and lawyers’ fees in the American Indian settlement. Until Friday, Republicans had thwarted several attempts made by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, to consider the measure on its own.

Mr. Reid was able to appease Republicans by finding offsetting spending cuts. The legislation was also amended to include a one-year extension to a program that provides temporary benefits to poor families, and several American Indian water rights settlements, both requested by Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona.

Shortly after the bill passed, Mr. Reid said he was “heartened” that both parties had been able to reach a deal.

“This issue has been of great importance to me, and I am pleased these long-suffering Americans can now receive the closure that they deserve,” Mr. Reid said.

Long time coming.

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