Black farmers, Native American settlements to get stand-alone vote Monday

Senate Democrats are going to ask for unanimous consent to approve a bill that would fund claims settlements for black farmers and Native Americans on Monday.

On a conference call with reporters Friday, John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, said the Senate will try to move a stand-alone bill authorizing funds for the settlements.

One resolves black farmers' discrimination claims against the Agriculture Department while the other resolves Native Americans' claims against the federal government for misuse of tribal land trust accounts, known as the Cobell settlement. The total price tag for both settlements is $4.6 billion over ten years.

"We see it as a last-ditch effort here before Congress goes into recess mode," Boyd said. The black farmers' advocate said he was frustrated by the bitter partisan fighting on Capitol Hill. Funds for both settlements have already passed in the House but have been continually blocked in the Senate after they were attached to much bigger bills, like the small business lending bill or the tax extenders bill.

Senate Republicans have stopped the settlements' funds and Boyd is calling on them to vote for it this time.

"We need Republicans to stand up and vote for this. That’s the bottom line," Boyd said.

A Senate leadership aide confirmed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will ask for unanimous consent to fund the settlements Monday.

Updated 3:58 p.m.

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