By a vote of 256-152, the House today approved a $4.6 billion settlement in the Pigford-Cobell lawsuits. The settlement, which passed the Senate on Nov. 9, will now make its way to President Obama, who has long advocated for its passage.
The payout is twofold for two separate lawsuits: $3.4 billion will be awarded to American Indian claimants who were jilted out of resource royalties by the Department of the Interior, and $1.2 billion will go to African-American farmers who faced racial discrimination when applying for loans with the Department of Agriculture in the '80s and '90s.
"I am pleased that today, the House has joined the Senate in passing the Claims Settlement Act of 2010,” said Obama in a statement. "Yet, while today's vote demonstrates important progress, we must remember that much work remains to be done. And my Administration will continue our efforts to resolve claims of past discrimination made by women and Hispanic farmers and others in a fair and timely manner."
Republican Rep. Michel Bachmann, who voted against the settlement, had supported further investigating the Pigford case for evidence of fraud. "This is an outrage, and one vote that no member of this Congress should vote for," she said, adding that Pigford's 94,000 black claimants — more than are currently operating farms in the U.S. — proved that the suit was "obviously fraudulent."
Read more at the Houston Chronicle.