Monday, November 29, 2010
THE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT RESOLUTION ACT
H.R. 4783, the Claims Settlement Resolution Act, is headed to the House Rules Committee after the last vote today. The Rules Committee is looking at the Senate Amendment. This bill should hit the floor early this week.
Title I pertains to Individual Indian Money Account Litigation. The original case was filed June 10, 1996. The United States lost the case, at trial and on appeal. The case is now styled Elouise Cobell et al. v. Ken Salazar. This was complex civil litigation, an opt out class action to determine declaratory and injunctive relief construing the trust obligations of the United States to members of the Plaintiff class and declaring that the United States breached and isin continuing breach of trust obligations to class members. The suit sought an order compelling Defendants to perform legally mandated obligations and requested an accounting by Department of the Interior Defendants of individual Indian trust assets. In sum this is all about the mismanagement of trust funds held for the benefit of individual Indians.
The case was complicated because during the pendency of the litigation another court ruled that certain lands were unconstitutionally escheated to the United States from Indians. Escheatment is a legal term of art. When a person dies without a will and that person has no heirs then that person's interests in real property goes to the government through escheatment.
Title II pertains to the Final Settlement of Claims from the In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation. This refers to the Pigford case in which it was alleged that the United States Department of Agriculture discriminated against black farmers on the basis of race and failed to properly investigate or properly respond to complaints from 1983 to 1987. The settlement was announced by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsak in March, 2010. S. 3754 and S. 3693 are related bills for Title II.
Title III is the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification. H.R. 1065 and S. 313 are the related bill on this matter.
Title IV is the Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement. The related bills are H.R. 3563, H.R. 845, and S. 375.
Title V is the Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights. The related bills are H.R. 3254 and S. 965.
Title VI is the AAMODT Litigation Settlement. AAMODT stands for the civil action entitled State of New Mexico, ex rel. State Engineer and United States of America, Pueblo de Nambe, Pueblo de Pojoaque, Pueblo de San Ildefonso, and Pueblo de Tesuque v. R. Lee Aamodt, et al. This is a New Mexico water rights case involving native Americans. The related bills are H.R. 3342 and S. 1105.
Title VII is the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund which was created by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Public Law 111-11. This Title provides that the Secretary of Treasury shall transfer to the Secretary of the Interior $60,000,000 for deposit in the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund for fiscal years 2012 through 2014.
Title VIII pertains to General Provisions. Subtitle A deals with Unemployment Compensation Program Integrity. Subtitle B pertains to TANF or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Subtitle C focuses on Customs User Fees; Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset. Subtitle D regards the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health. Subtitle E provides for the Rescission of Funds From WIC Program. That takes back $562,000,000 from the Women, Infants, and Children program. That's a hard thing to do.