indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
McCain puts twist in Cobell settlement legislation
Thursday, August 3, 2006

The price tag for settling the Cobell Indian trust fund lawsuit may have just gone up despite attempts by the Bush administration to delay the case.

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, was due to advance an $8 billion settlement bill on Wednesday. But after meeting with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday morning, he said he would work with the Interior Department, the Cobell plaintiffs and Indian Country to develop a new package.

Citing a follow-up letter that Kempthorne sent to the committee, McCain said it represented "the kind of commitment that's necessary to achieve a full and complete resolution to the entire issue of trust management that has plagued the department and Indian Country."

McCain's statement at a business committee meeting yesterday morning was not at odds with his general views about the debacle. He has often called the federal government's management of billions of dollars in Indian funds a national disgrace.

But he and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the vice chairman of the committee, made it clear that they want to put the brakes on any future trust fund litigation. "We would want this -- if a settlement is achievable -- to be a comprehensive and resolve all of the related issues," said Dorgan.

That means an $8 billion settlement may not be enough. As originally drafted, S.1439, the Indian Trust Reform Act, intended to address the historical accounting claim of the Cobell lawsuit and not "all aspects" -- as McCain put it -- of more than a century of trust fund mismanagement.

Other aspects, such as mismanagement of the trust assets themselves, would not be covered by a historical accounting settlement. Bush administration officials like Special Trustee Ross Swimmer have repeatedly pointed this out in their Congressional testimony and public statements, partly to argue that Indian account holders aren't owed much but also to downplay the scope of the Cobell case.

Experts too have told the committee that resolution of the historical accounting would not address trust asset mismanagement claims, such as whether Indian landowners received the best price for use of their assets. At a hearing this past March, they said it is up to Congress to decide how far the settlement will go.

"In coming to a number, which almost certainly should be in the billions, the committees should take into account the passage of time, the lost investment opportunities, the massive negligence -- or worse -- of the Interior Department, the fact that you are really returning their money, and similar factors," said Stuart E. Eizenstat, a former ambassador who helped resolve a Holocaust lawsuit.

At another hearing in March, tribal leaders were wary of expanding a settlement beyond the historical accounting because trust mismanagement issues are often more complex and typically entail larger sums of money. The Navajo Nation's trust mismanagement lawsuit, one of more than two dozen tribal cases in the courts, seeks at least $1.2 billion for a disputed coal lease.

The Bush administration also has warned of potentially large liabilities beyond the Cobell case, which affects only individual tribal members. Citing litigation filed by tribal governments, the Department of Justice at one point asked the U.S. Supreme Court to limit all types of trust claims, a request that was rejected.

Keith Harper, an attorney for the Cobell suit, said some Interior officials are indeed lobbying Congress to address tribal claims. He called it a stalling tactic meant to distract lawmakers and to divide Indian Country because tribes would want to resolve their lawsuits on their own terms.

"Unfortunately, we're still in the posture where everyday individual Indians are being denied justice after 119 years of not receiving an accounting of their trust funds," he said.

At the meeting yesterday, McCain said the committee would spend the next month on the new package. Congress goes on a break this week and will resume work after the Labor Day holiday in September.

The delay means McCain has fewer than 20 legislative days to advance a settlement at a time where Congress usually turns its attention to the appropriations bills that need to be passed by October to keep the federal government operating.

The following month, many lawmakers will be consumed by the mid-term elections. One is Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Montana), the chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations subcommittee, which handles funding for all the major Indian programs.

Citing recent meetings with Cobell and tribal leaders in Montana and Wyoming, Burns said he was "disappointed that we couldn't move forward with legislation" to settle the case.

McCain also faces a personal deadline. In December, he is stepping down as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and will hand the reins to someone else.

"Several times in recent months I have promised to make trust reform, including the settlement of the Cobell case and related issues, a high priority," McCain said in March 2005, "but I will also repeat here that I intend to give it only one good shot."

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Statement:
INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE POSTPONES CONSIDERATION OF TRUST REFORM LEGISLATION (August 2, 2006)

Indian Trust Reform Act:
S.1439 | H.R.4322

Relevant Links:
Senate Indian Affairs Committee - http://indian.senate.gov
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Kempthorne - http://www.indiantrust.com
Office of Special Trustee - http://www.ost.doi.gov
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm

Related Stories:
Time running out on Cobell settlement bill (7/28)
Editorial: It's time for settlement on Cobell (7/28)
Ross Swimmer: Interior still 'working' on trust (7/28)
Cobell issues statement on settlement talks (7/25)
Cobell settlement awaited in Indian Country (7/25)
Jodi Rave: Cobell worried about settlement legislation (7/24)
Mark Trahant: It's time for the U.S. to keep its word (7/17)
Editorial: Lamberth too honest in trust fund case (7/17)
Cooler heads sought in Indian trust fund fight (7/14)
Lamberth removed from Cobell trust fund case (7/12)
Lamberth is third judge removed by D.C. Circuit (7/12)
Cobell settlement rumored to be in the billions (7/5)
Cobell rallies for support on trust fund lawsuit (06/19)
Editorial: Give Kempthorne a chance on Cobell (6/15)
Cobell files contempt charges against Kempthorne (6/13)
Editorial: Dirk Kempthorne arrives in Washington (6/13)
Swimmer calls Cobell settlement 'reparations' (5/8)
Cobell: Settle Indian trust fund case for billions (4/20)
Cobell to appear on C-SPAN Washington Journal (4/12)
Cobell renews call for receiver as court hears case (4/12)
Cobell vows fight to resolve trust fund lawsuit (4/10)
Cobell plans big showing on day of court hearing (4/4)
Jodi Rave: Tribes alarmed at trust reform initiative (4/3)
Cobell addresses trust fund mismanagement (3/30)
Ross Swimmer: Indian trust not about mismanagement (3/29)
Norton denies fraud or major problem with trust (3/29)
GAO report warns of billions in lost oil, gas royalties (3/29)
Witness list for hearing on Indian Trust Reform Act (3/28)
DOI trust reform meeting set for Portland, Oregon (3/24)
Kempthorne faces hot issues at Interior Department (3/21)
DOI pressed for more clarity on trust initiative (3/3)
Congress urged to settle Cobell lawsuit for billions (03/02)
Listening Lounge: Joint hearing on Cobell v. Norton (03/01)
Interior hits the road with new trust reform initiative (02/08)
Jodi Rave: Garcia calls for settlement of Cobell (2/3)
Cason slashes BIA budget and blames it on Cobell (2/3)
Tribes discuss trust reform bill, Cobell settlement (1/31)
Commentary: Swimmer still not telling the truth on trust (1/26)
Opinion: Indians want $12B of 'YOUR' money (01/10)
Cobell: Appeals court ruling a favorable one (12/21)
Cobell team awarded fees for lengthy court fight (12/21)
Ross Swimmer: No 'lump sum' settlement for Cobell (12/19)
Attorney: Interior still not living up to trust duties (12/19)
Report: Cason says termination of trust on the table (12/16)
Still no agreement on settlement to Cobell (12/9)
Audio: House Resources hearing on Cobell (12/8)
House Resources to hold hearing on Cobell (12/5)
Elouise Cobell: Lamberth frustrated with DOI (11/28)
Judge Lamberth, the cowboy, sides with Indians (11/28)
Editorial: Settle Cobell trust fund lawsuit (11/25)
Cobell to press Interior on accounting mess (11/22)
Cobell says government not off the hook on trust fund (11/21)
Broad accounting of Indian trust fund blocked (11/16)
Battle over Cobell trust fund case heats up (10/24)
Appeals court considers bias charges in Cobell lawsuit (10/17)
Another Cobell v. Norton hearing this week (10/11)
Interior warned of computer security risks again (09/30)
Editorial: BIA is busy ... dumping trust records (09/29)
Opinion: A century of stalling on Indian trust (9/28)
Editorial: Interior's 'self-serving' claims on trust (9/27)
Editorial: Lamberth now knows what termination is like (9/23)
Trust fund records dumped by federal records agency (9/22)
Editorial: Time to get to bottom of trust fund woes (09/22)
Cobell plaintiffs: Swimmer to blame for trust woes (09/20)
DOI spends $30K to produce glossy report on trust (09/20)
Appeals court hears latest Cobell v. Norton dispute (09/19)
Commentary: Government cheating Indians on trust fund (09/19)
Cobell willing to consider land, payment schedule (09/16)
Appeals court delays Lamberth fairness complaint (09/16)
Lamberth has many fans but Interior not one of them (09/15)
Ross Swimmer: Cobell suit not about mismanagement (09/14)
Two Cobell v. Norton court hearings this week (09/13)
Swimmer disputes Cobell trust fund lawsuit (9/8)
Cobell speaks to account holders on Navajo Nation (9/2)
Editorial: Both sides must work on trust reform bill (9/1)
Interior to negotiate with tribes on trust records policy (08/30)
Cobell speaks to account holders in Arizona (8/31)
Cobell blasts effort against trust fund judge (8/29)
Cobell to update account holders on lawsuit (8/24)
Editorial: Fix trust fund, don't target Lamberth (8/18)
Norton wants Lamberth taken off Cobell case (8/16)
Cobell Letter: Ross Swimmer can't tell the truth (08/08)
Resolution of Cobell v. Norton appears far away (08/05)
Editorial: McCain and Dorgan should fix trust bill (08/04)
BLM CIO threatened with demotion in Cobell case (08/02)
Indian Country, Interior far apart on trust bill (08/01)
Editorial: Settlement of trust fund case at hand (08/01)
Appeals court stays Lamberth order on notices (07/29)
Judge blasts Interior on handling of trust (7/13)
Elouise Cobell: Principles put trust back into trust fund (07/07)
Cobell and Cason to appear on C-SPAN program (7/6)
Cobell calls for settlement of trust fund lawsuit (7/5)
Editorial: Resolution of trust fund debacle needed (7/5)
Editorial: Abramoff scandal can't compare to trust (6/30)
Opinion: Downfall of Indians traced to Army, BIA (6/28)
Pombo supports settlement of Cobell trust fund case (6/27)
Harjo: Tribes lobby to fleece their own people (6/24)
Editorial: Congress should settle trust fund (6/24)
Editorial: Trust fund a 'national embarassment' (6/22)
Indian Country united on trust reform solutions (6/21)
Trust workgroup to outline Cobell settlement goals (6/17)
Echohawk optimistic on settlement of Cobell case (06/03)
Final trust reform meeting held in North Dakota (6/3)
UTTC hosts meeting on trust reform legislation (6/1)
House panel acts to restore Bush budget cuts (05/05)
NCAI and ITMA hold second trust reform meeting (05/04)
Bush administration won't give up fight on Cobell (03/18)
McCain weighs GAO probe of Indian trust debacle (03/10)
McCain lays out Indian agenda for 109th Congress (3/7)
Norton won't testify on trust fund retaliation (2/28)
Bush official won't accept claims of trust mismanagement (02/17)
Appeals court won't hold back Lamberth on trust reform (12/13)
Appeals court supports Lamberth's authority on IT (12/06)
Lamberth critical of Norton's 'bad faith' on trust fund (10/25)
Interior denies attempt to halt trust fund payments (10/05)
Bush administration challenges trust fund ruling (09/16)
Appeals court takes on Cobell trust fund case (9/15)
Lamberth exchanges harsh words with Cobell critic (08/02)
Bush administration calls for end to Cobell case (04/09)
Cobell trust fund suit mediators announced (4/6)
Special master Balaran resigns from Cobell lawsuit (04/06)
DOI's Internet connection shut down for third time (03/16)
Lamberth defends special master against attack (03/16)
Anderson praises Cobell suit in NCAI speech (2/25)
Tribes still frustrated on trust reform (11/20)
Bush officials blasted by tribal leaders (11/19)
Cobell plaintiffs disputing trust fund rider (11/17)
Daschle criticizes 'shameful' rider in DOI budget bill (11/04)
Norton welcomes time-out in Cobell trust fund case (11/4)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)
Court investigator slams Interior's trust fund report (04/22)
Norton gets another day in court (4/22)
Court looks into TAAMS 'concealment' (11/07)
Court probes Norton's trust fund report (10/11)
Norton's witness on TAAMS does damage (09/23)
Top trust reform official comes under fire (05/21)
Feisty memos at heart of trust reform feud (05/20)
On trust, the problems remain the same (05/13)
A super assistant secretary, in all but name (05/03)
Memo sounded early warning on TAAMS (2/4)
Trust system takes center stage in contempt (2/1)
Trust reform update sheds some light (1/22)
Norton: Trust reform blueprint 'obsolete' (1/18)
Under watch of Swimmer, TAAMS halted (1/18)
Norton signs trust reform update (1/17)
Witness testifies against software corruption (1/15)
TAAMS: The Titanic Failure (12/20)
TAAMS failure traced to promoted manager (12/20)
Norton ordered to submit trust fund report (12/18)
Official: Trust fund fix at 'great risk' of failure (10/10)
Memo: Solicitor's order was 'intimidating' (10/10)
Interior delaying trust reform report (9/6)

Copyright 2000-2006 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Native nations unite on uranium mine cleanup (7/29)
Audio from House subcommittee hearing on five tribal measures (7/29)
House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs hearing (7/29)
Witness List: SCIA hearing on natural disasters in Indian Country (7/29)
Gyasi Ross: Tribes put principle over profit in banning Ted Nugent (7/29)
Steven Newcomb: UN perpetuates dominance of Native peoples (7/29)
Megan Red Shirt-Shaw: Music festival outlaws faux headdresses (7/29)
BIA holds final in-person meeting on federal recognition reform (7/29)
'Caucasians' t-shirt sees boost in popularity thanks to Native DJ (7/29)
WyoFile: Tribes depend on Medicaid funding for health services (7/29)
Another member of Miccosukee Tribe killed in fatal car accident (7/29)
Former employee sentenced for theft from Chippewa Cree Tribe (7/29)
Editorial: Washington team's 'racial slur' has no place in society (7/29)
Review: 'Unreal City' exploits coal from Hopi and Navajo tribes (7/29)
Senate bill introduced to kill Tohono O'odham Nation casino bid (7/29)
Mohegan Tribe reports declines in gaming revenues and profits (7/29)
Muscogee Nation adds steakhouse to $335M casino expansion (7/29)
Editorial: Proposed Pojoaque Pueblo compact hurts New Mexico (7/29)
Tim Giago: Lakota and Pueblo Indians on Pine Ridge Reservation (7/28)
Native Sun News: President of Oglala Sioux Tribe dodges bullets (7/28)
Puyallup fashion designer competes for prize in Project Runway (7/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets business meeting on bills (7/28)
NIEA heads to Capitol Hill to advocate for Native language bills (7/28)
Obama signs Pascua Yaqui and Hoonah Indian Association bills (7/28)
Ho-Chunk Inc executive Lance Morgan receives business honor (7/28)
Charles Roessel: BIE reform plan includes teacher certification (7/28)
Troy Eid: Marijuana experiment in Colorado hurts Indian youth (7/28)
BIA hosts scoping meeting on Paiute Tribe land-into-trust bid (7/28)
Cherokee Nation program keeps former inmates out of prison (7/28)
Grand Ronde Tribes disenroll 86 descendants of treaty signer (7/28)
Protest targets disenrollments within Saginaw Chippewa Tribe (7/28)
At least 10 tribes adopt laws to recognize same-sex mariages (7/28)
KUOW: Coeur d'Alene Tribe cleans meth houses with EPA funds (7/28)
Law Article: Supreme Court sends reminder on tribal immunity (7/28)
Unsettled: Passamaquoddy Tribe awaits constitutional reform (7/28)
KGOU: Indian Times review of news affecting Oklahoma tribes (7/28)
Judge hears dispute over United Keetoowah Band gaming site (7/28)
Chumash Tribe plans hotel tower with $160M casino expansion (7/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe changes architects for casino plan (7/28)
Soo Tribe casino partner was developer behind failed racetrack (7/28)
Editorial: State must negotiate compact with Pojoaque Pueblo (7/28)
Native Sun News: IHS hospital at Pine Ridge undergoes review (7/25)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Group disturbs tranquility at Bear Butte (7/25)
Indian Health Service discloses privacy breach of patient data (7/25)
BIA extends comment period on federal recognition regulation (7/25)
Navajo Nation president calling for FBI probe of brutal murders (7/25)
Jennie Stockle: Justice for victims of Cedarville mass shooting (7/25)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.