House clears Indian, black farmer settlements

Ben Evans
Associated Press
via Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – The House on Tuesday passed landmark legislation to pay for some $4.6 billion in settlements with American Indians and black farmers who say they faced discrimination and mistreatment from the government.

Lawmakers voted 256-152 to send the measure to President BarackObama, whose administration brokered the settlements over the past year.

The package would award some $3.4 billion to American Indians over claims they were cheated out of royalties overseen by the Interior Department for resources like oil, gas and timber. Another $1.2 billion would go to African-Americans who claim they were unfairly denied loans and other assistance from the Agriculture Department.

The settlements have broad bipartisan support but had stalled on Capitol Hill over costs until the Senate broke a stalemate earlier this month.

Although the Senate passed it without opposition, most Republicans opposed it in the House. Many argued the individual settlements have merit but objected to lumping them together in a single bill with other provisions, including deals on four long-standing disputes over Indian water rights.

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said Democrats weren’t really paying for the bill as they claimed but were simply tapping unused funds in unrelated programs.

“When we approve new spending we should offset that by spending cuts,” Brady said.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, likened the black farmers program to “modern-day reparations” for African-Americans and argued along with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., that the claims process is rife with fraud.

The article continues at Yahoo! News.

H/T HillBuzz

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