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Seventh Time’s The Charm for Cobell?
Posted By Ryan J. Reilly On August 6, 2010 @ 4:22 pm In News | Comments Disabled
Bickering between Republicans and Democrats over how to pay for the Cobell settlement means Congress has shot past Friday’s deadline to approve a settlement in the long-running case involving discrimination against American Indians. Meanwhile, Cobell’s lawyers are debating their next step, reported  The National Law Journal.
On Thursday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) argued that the settlement in the Indian case needs work and proposed an alternative, according to  the Associated Press. The Cobell legislation had been tied to a separate settlement for black farmers.
The stall in the Senate meant Congress did not meet the Aug. 6 deadline for the Cobell legislation to be passed, and since the chamber is entering August recess, it will not take further action until at least mid-September.
Dennis Gingold, a solo practitioner representing the plaintiffs, told the paper that Obama administration officials should lobby Congress harder. “Why bother doing something that is this much of a landmark if you’re not willing to do what it takes to get it done?” Gingold said.
The Aug. 6 deadline was the sixth set by lawyers for Cobell and those from the Justice Department representing the government. A conference is scheduled to be held in the chambers of U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan on Aug. 17.
A Justice Department spokesman had no immediate comment.
The settlement, named for Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the suit, was filed in 1996 on behalf of more than 300,000 American Indians.
Last December, the government and plaintiffs reached a $1.4 billion deal to settle the case, Cobell v. Salazar. However, the settlement requires congressional approval, and the original deadline, set for Dec. 31, 2009, has been extended six times.
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