An Obama administration official has hinted that the House will today vote on the long-running Pigford-Cobell lawsuits, thus coming one step closer to concluding cases that have been drawn out for decades now.
The possibility of a vote on the suits, which would give $4.6 billion to American Indian and African-American litigants slighted by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture, effectively canceled a White House Pigford-Cobell roundtable scheduled for today. Acting Deputy Director at the Office of Management and Budget Rob Nabors and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the USDA Dr. Joe Leonard were to speak, but now the administration, which has come out in support of the litigants, will await an outcome.
On November 19, the Senate approved the Pigford settlement, which would give more than $1.1 billion to black farmers who faced racial animus when applying for USDA loans in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Today, proponents of the 1997 suit hope the House will do the same.
At the passage of the settlement in the Senate, Senator Harry Reid expressed his gratitude:
Black farmers … have had to wait a long time for justice, but now it will finally be served. 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.
-Cord Jefferson is The Root’s Washington reporter. Follow him on Twitter.