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Rep. Baca's Statement on the Claims Resolution Act of 2010

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Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) spoke on the floor of the House of Representative today in support of H.R. 4783, the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. The legislation provides funding to settle the Pigford discrimination lawsuit, brought by African American farmers against the USDA. The bill also includes funds to settle the Cobell case, brought by Native American communities whose trust accounts were mishandled by the federal government, and resolutions to water rights claims for other Native tribes.

H.R. 4783 passed the House by a 256 - 152 vote, and a copy of Rep. Baca’s statements to his colleagues on the House floor follows:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to voice my strong support for H.R. 4783, the Claims Resolution Act of 2010.”

“I want to thank Congressional leadership and the White House for their commitment to ensure justice for those individuals and communities we have wronged in the past. The treatment of minority farmers by the USDA remains a dark stain on our nation’s history.”

“When I first came to Congress, I worked extensively in the Agriculture Committee with my former colleague, Rep. Eva Clayton, to bring justice to African American, Hispanic, Native American, and Female farmers. We hosted several meetings, wrote letters, and chaired numerous Subcommittee hearings on this very issue to address past discrimination.”

“Today, I am pleased to say we are taking an important step forward in righting the past wrongs and injustices carried out by this country. H.R. 4783 provides the additional funding required to settle the Pigford lawsuit, brought by African American farmers. It also includes funds to settle the Cobell case, and finally provide justice to Native Americans communities whose trust accounts were mishandled by the Government.”

“Thousands of people have been affected, and still bear the wounds of the past discriminations. Their wait for justice has been too long.”

“The legislation also includes important measures to settle water rights claims for many Tribes, including: the White Mountain Apache, the Crow Montana, the Navajo Nation, the Taos Pueblo, and other Southwestern Pueblo tribes.”

“We still have a long road ahead before we can bring justice to all groups discriminated by the USDA, including Hispanic farmers and female farmers, but we are moving in the right direction.”

“I urge my colleagues to do the right thing, and vote yes on H.R. 4783. I yield back the balance of my time.”

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