After years of stops and starts, tonight could be the night the U.S. Senate approves a $1.25 billion to fund a USDA discrimination settlement for black farmers that has been repeatedly delayed.
If it passes the Senate, the measure will go to back to the House of Representatives for a vote.
“We really need the Senate to act today and give us a ‘yes’ vote,” John Boyd, founder of the National Black Farmers Association, told Politic365, noting that partisan politics in the Senate has created a difficult environment to get the bill passed.
In a “historic development,” the measure will go before lawmakers in a unanimous consent measure scheduled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after a one-on-one meeting with Boyd.
The funding will be paid for and will not add to the national deficit, the release said. Adding to the national debt has been a GOP sticking point for passing legislation.
“We are hopeful that each and every Senator will approve this bipartisan amendment …,” Boyd said. “But let’s be clear, for this amendment to pass by unanimous consent we need the support of Senator Mitch McConnell and each of his Republican colleagues. Senator McConnell told me personally that he supports congressional action on justice for the Black farmers.”
A federal court found in favor of the farmers in the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture more than 10 years ago and more than $1 billion in debt relief and payments were awarded. The new settlement — known as Pigford II — will compensate thousands of farmers who missed the filing deadline.
The settlement is the largest civil rights payout in history. Deadlines to fund the settlement have passed; a new deadline has been set for Aug. 13, Boyd said.
[Editor’s note: The farmer in the photo is Isadore Banks. Pray that his legacy and the livelihood of black farmers is preserved in today’s vote. -rmc]