Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement

Rep. Cole questions need for bill to limit Cobell attorney fees





Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), the only Native American in Congress, doesn't think lawmakers should be interfering with the $3.4 billion settlement to the Indian trust fund lawsuit.

Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, helped pass the settlement during the 111th Congress. But some of his fellow Republicans are upset about deal and have introduced a bill to limit attorney fees to $50 million.

"My sense is that its not particularly helpful" for Congress to interfere, Cole said at a hearing before the House Appropriations Committee yesterday. "We oughta let the ... judge in this case do what he wants to do."

"I'd hate to reintroduce the issue here," added Cole.

The House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs will hold a hearing on H.R.887 next Tuesday. The bill has three sponsors, all Republicans.

In addition to limiting attorney fees, the bill requires the Interior Department to submit a report to Congress on its land consolidation plans, and to potentially identify an alternative to the portion of the settlement that deals with land consolidation.

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