Black lawmakers are roiled over the Obama administration’s move to potentially cap billions of dollars in compensation owed to black farmers, saying the position contradicts legislation the president championed as an Illinois senator.
In a meeting Wednesday, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) vented frustration at recent court filings by the Justice Department that could severely limit compensation owed to black farmers discriminated against in the past by the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Justice Department has estimated that it could cost as much as $4 billion to repay the farmers, yet the recent filings suggest it may cap the total compensation at $100 million — about 2.5 percent.
The black lawmakers decided to request a meeting between administration officials and caucus representatives as soon as possible to discuss the filings.
“At a minimum, the CBC should meet with the Obama administration and clarify this filing,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).
“What will happen — should happen — is the Justice Department, the [Agriculture] Department should sit down with representatives of the CBC,” said Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.).