Senate Majority Leader Reid reached agreement with three Republican senators to provide funding to settle two long-standing lawsuits against the government, only to find that Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., had raised new objections, a Reid spokeswoman said late Wednesday.
The deal would have freed funds for a discrimination suit filed by black farmers against the Agriculture Department and for a case involving mismanagement of trust funds that Indian tribes filed against the Interior Department.
Reid had worked out agreements with Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.; and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, but then Coburn said he wanted to separate the two settlements, Reid’s spokeswoman said. A Coburn spokeswoman did not return a call requesting details about his objection.
The 2008 farm bill authorized USDA to settle the black farmers’ case, known as Pigford II, filed by farmers who were unable to make the filing deadline in the original Pigford suit settled by the Clinton administration. The Obama administration settled the Pigford II case for $1.25 billion, but Congress only provided $100 million in the farm bill and needs to appropriate another $1.15 billion to settle the case.