The U.S. House has approved the Claims Settlement Act. The measure, which recently passed the Senate, will provide funding for the agreements reached in the Pigford II lawsuit, brought by African American farmers, the Cobell lawsuit brought by Native Americans, and four water rights suits made by Native American tribes. President Obama, who has said he will sign the legislation into law, applauded Congress for acting in a bipartisan fashion to bring this chapter in the nation's history to a close. But he also said more work remains, stating his Administration will continue efforts to resolve claims of past discrimination made by women, Hispanic farmers and others.
Attorney General Eric Holder called Tuesday's vote a significant, historic achievement. He said the settlements not only resolve litigation, but offer a new relationship between many deserving Americans and the federal agencies that play an important role in their lives.
According to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack the bill approved by the Senate and House includes strong protections against waste, fraud and abuse to ensure integrity of the claims process.