Tonight, the Senate passed legislation that would provide funding for the African American farmers’ and Native Americans’ settlements reached in the Pigford and Cobell class action lawsuits against the federal government. Speaker Pelosi:
I have long urged my colleagues in the Senate to take up Pigford and Cobell legislation and bring a much-delayed end to serious cases of discrimination. Today, 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.
It is my hope that the House will move forward without delay so we can send this bill to the President and finally close the door on these injustices.
I am pleased that the Senate passed legislation today that would provide funding for settlement of both the Pigford and Cobell class action lawsuits – an important step toward finally correcting these blights on our Nation’s history. The Cobell settlement would resolve the government’s management and accounting of funds that would benefit over 300,000 Native Americans, and the Pigford settlement would bring to an end a decades old discrimination lawsuit brought by African American farmers against the USDA. I hope to bring this bill to the House Floor for a vote very soon so that our government can continue to move forward in fulfilling our obligation to African American farmers and Native Americans.
Today is a great day for our nation’s black farmers and Native Americans who were discriminated against by their own government for years. For more than a decade, political gamesmanship prevented thousands of our nation’s black farmers from receiving the settlement fairly awarded to them. What happened to our nation’s African American farmers and Native Americans was wrong, and we are now making a significant step to make it right. President Obama’s leadership on this issue is to be commended, and I especially want to thank my colleagues in the Congressional black caucus for keeping the focus on this issue. Funding for the Cobell v. Salazar settlement would not have happened without the leadership of Senators Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad and I thank both of them for their leadership. We never stopped fighting and I look forward to rounding up the votes for this bill and sending it to the President for his signature.