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GOP obstruction is preventing vital debt relief for Black farmers facing foreclosure

Republicans are blocking billions of dollars in aid promised to thousands of farmers in need.

By Oliver Willis - February 22, 2022
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Stephen Miller

Efforts to relieve the debts of Black farmers facing foreclosure are being blocked by Republican opposition to the Build Back Better legislation that has already passed the House of Representatives. The legislation is one of the few avenues of support left to these farmers after conservatives sued to prevent help from being distributed through the American Rescue Plan Act, which Republicans opposed legislatively in the House and Senate.

Multiple outlets have recently reported that the farmers in question have been receiving collection notices in recent weeks while funds that have been promised to them continue to be blocked by court cases backed by conservative groups.

A provision in the Build Back Better Act would provide farmers with the funds that they need as part of the package’s social spending. The plan has consistently experienced majority support in public opinion polls and has the backing of labor unions and advocacy groups.

The act requires 51 votes to pass the Senate via the budget reconciliation process, but led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republicans uniformly oppose the bill. They are joined in their opposition by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) who announced in December that he does not support its passage.

“Getting the broader relief provision that the House passed signed into law remains the surest and quickest way to help farmers in economic distress across the nation, including thousands and thousands of farmers of color,” White House senior adviser Gene Sperling told the New York Times in a story published on Monday.

The Senate inaction follows in the footsteps of other actions from Republicans and conservative groups over the previous year to stop farmer relief.

Many of the farmers believed that long-awaited relief would be in hand after President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law in 2021. The law included $4 billion in debt forgiveness targeted to “socially disadvantaged” farmers, referring to groups that have historically faced discrimination from the government and banks.

Republicans opposed that relief when the Rescue Plan was first proposed but the legislation passed both the House and Senate with only Democratic votes.

America First Legal, a group led by former Trump White House aide Stephen Miller, has been suing the government in federal court in an attempt to block farmer relief. They have been successful and have received injunctions fulfilling that goal.

Miller, who in the past has promoted white nationalist propaganda, argued that providing relief to Black farmers was discriminatory. Conservative groups like the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, who tried to disenfranchise Black voters during the 2020 election, have also been a part of the legal attack on the plan’s farmer relief provisions.

Black farmers, who have faced historic discrimination from both banks and the government, continue to be denied billions of dollars as all the currently available avenues to relief are blocked by Republican actions.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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