House OKs paying black farmers' claims

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. House Tuesday approved $1.15 billion to pay long-promised claims to black farmers for past discrimination in government loan programs.

The funds will pay for a 1997 settlement between the Agriculture Department and minority farmers. A federal judge's order from the 1990s could mean qualified farmers will receive $50,000 each to settle the claims, CNN reported Tuesday.


The legislation also funds a $3.4 billion settlement with the Department of Interior for mishandling American Indian trust funds. The Senate approved the legislation by unanimous consent Nov. 19, so the measure is headed to the Oval Office for President Barack Obama's signature.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder -- in a statement issued by the Departments of Justice, Interior and Agriculture -- called the bipartisan House passage of the Claims Settlement Act of 2010 "a significant, historic achievement."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the legislation "includes strong protections against waste, fraud, and abuse to ensure integrity of the claims process."

During the House debate, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said the settlement amounted to "slavery reparations" and accused claimants of "just filing a claim because they think they can get away with it."


"We've got to stand up at some point and say, 'We are not gonna pay slavery reparations in the United States Congress,'" King said. "That war's been fought. That was over a century ago. That debt was paid for in blood and it was paid for in the blood of a lot of Yankees, especially."

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