As the furor begins to die down over the debacle that was the Shirley Sherrod false racism accusation and firing, one thing that has been overlooked in many quarters is the fact that black farmers are still waiting for Congress to pass legislation to settle discrimination suits.
John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, is calling on the White House to put pressure on lawmakers to pass the bill to settle the lawsuits brought by black and Native American farmers. Earlier this month, the House included money for the settlement in a war supplemental bill, but the bill that passed in the Senate late Thursday did not have that provision.
“It is clear that without pressure from the White House this funding will not make it through Congress,â€ said Boyd in a statement released July 23. “It is clear now that without greater White House pressure, the Senate cannot manage to keep this funding, despite its widespread support, in a larger funding measure because it continues to get grouped with other controversial add-ons. This is an unacceptable situation and must be resolved immediately.â€
Boyd spent much of Thursday lobbying lawmakers on Capitol Hill, hoping to win greater support and commitments from senators before they adjourn for their August recess in two weeks. He said that staffers in the office of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) told him getting the settlement in the war supplemental will be too difficult and that he plans to introduce a standalone bill.
But Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) on Thursday expressed serious doubt that the House would be able to pass a similar freestanding bill and questions whether the cases will be settled before January.
During their weekly press conferences, both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Minority Leader John Boehner both spoke of the need to resolve the matter.
“This issue has gone on for almost the 20 years that I’ve been here, and it needs to be resolved,” Boehner said.
What will Washington be talking about next week?
The Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship will hold a July 27 hearing titled “The Deepwater Drilling Moratorium: A Second Disaster for Small Businesses?â€
Congressional Black Caucus Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) will chair a Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection subcommittee hearing on the BP oil spill’s impact on Gulf Coast tourism on July 27.
The National Urban League will be in town celebrating its 100th birthday from July 28-31. Forum topics include the state of black America and what black America will look like in 2025. President Barack Obama will address the organization July 29.