Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Cobell
Sen. Barrasso seeks to make changes to Cobell settlement


Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, wants to make changes to the bill that authorizes the $3.4 billion settlement to the Indian trust fund lawsuit.

In a letter, Barrasso asked the Senate Finance Committee to address five issues. He wants to place a $50 million cap on attorneys' fees, limit "incentive" awards to the five named plaintiffs, appoint a special master to select a bank that will administer the distribution of the settlement funds, require the Interior Department to consult tribes about the land consolidation portion of the deal and set aside $50 million of the $1.412 billion in payments to beneficiaries to address "insufficient or unfair" situations.

Barrasso said witnesses at a recent House Natural Resources Committee hearing raised similar concerns about the settlement. He also said the Affiliated Tribe Northwest Indians passed a resolution that addressed some of the same issues as those in his letter.

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Washington), the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, tried to make the same changes before the settlement came to a vote as part of the H.R.4213, the American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes and Preventing Outsourcing Act. The House passed the bill without the modifications.

American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act:
Press Release: Baucus, Levin To Release Joint Legislation To Create Jobs, Extend Tax Cuts for Families and Businesses, Support Americans Looking for Work | Background and More Information

Cobell Settlement Documents:
Agreement | Press Release | Q&A | Audio

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