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The U.S. Senate Friday approved spending $4.6 billion to settle two lawsuits: one by black farmers who alleged racial discrimination by government lenders and the other by 300,000 American Indians who said they had been cheated out of land royalties dating to 1887.

Passage of the measure, by voice vote, unblocks a legislative logjam that has thwarted payouts, negotiated by the Obama administration, of $1.15 billion to the black farmers and $3.4 billion to the American Indians.

“We are one step closer to ensuring that the black farmers and Native Americans in these suits are fully compensated for past failures of judgment by the government,” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in a statement after the Senate vote. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said he hopes to seek a vote after Congress returns from a week-long recess on Nov. 29.

Read more about this story at Bloomberg.com

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