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July 17, 2002

Today the United States House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to strike language proposed by Secretary Norton and the White House that sought to undermine the Cobell v. Norton litigation and limit the Court-ordered accounting. The striken language sought:

  1. To limit the historical accounting for the time period 1985 to 2000; and
  2. To exclude accounts arbitrarily closed before 2000.
Secretary Norton and the White House unlawfully sought to include the provisions in the appropriations bill to mitigate the pending contempt decision against Norton and to evade their responsibility to conduct the all funds accounting required by United States District Court and United States Court of Appeals.

Most members of Congress again expressed a strong preference for settlement of the six year old Cobell v. Norton lawsuit. Plaintiffs concur. "We have always sought a settlement of these issues and have always sat down with government officials in good faith; it's a shame and disgrace that the Secretary has never done the same. If Secretary Norton or the White House can show us their good faith intention to settle this case, plaintiffs will continue to be and always are ready to resolve this matter," said Elouise Cobell.

The passage of the Rahall Amendment striking the offensive language is directly attributable to 281 Congressmen who voted overwhelmingly to adopt the amendment. However, plaintiffs note that but for the diligence and fortitude (and bipartisanship) of Congressmen Rahall (D - WV), Kildee (D - MI), Hayworth (R - AZ), Pallone (D - NJ), Miller (D - CA), Cunningham (R - CA), and Young (R - AK), Secretary Norton and the White House would have succeeded in further harming 500,000 individual Indian trust beneficiaries.

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