No vote from US Senate on Indian trust settlement

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Helena, Montana (AP) October 2010

Supporters of a $3.4 billion government settlement with American Indians will have to keep waiting.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to adjourn this week without giving the Obama administration the authority to settle a class-action lawsuit filed in 1996 by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont. The suit accuses the federal government of mismanaging billions of dollars held in trust for Indian landowners. The Senate will reconvene for a lame-duck session Nov. 15. Cobell says no decision has been made on whether to press for Senate approval in that session.

The House has approved the settlement twice since May.

Cobell says the Senate’s inaction is a great disappointment. She says the plaintiffs believe a majority of senators support the settlement and that even their critics say it’s time to end the 14-year-old lawsuit.