< Back to H.R. 3685 (106th Congress, 1999–2000)

Text of the USDA Civil Rights Resolution Act of 2000

This bill was introduced on February 16, 2000, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Feb 16, 2000 (Introduced).

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HR 3685 IH

106th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 3685

To facilitate the timely resolution of back-logged civil rights discrimination cases of the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 16, 2000

Mr. HILL of Montana introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Agriculture, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To facilitate the timely resolution of back-logged civil rights discrimination cases of the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘USDA Civil Rights Resolution Act of 2000’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

    (a) FINDINGS- Congress finds that--

      (1) there exists a strong public policy against discrimination against minority groups, whether the discrimination is committed by private persons or by the Federal Government in the operation of its programs;

      (2) whenever discrimination occurs in the conduct of Federal programs, the responsible Federal agencies should take quick and aggressive action to remedy the discrimination;

      (3) in 1997, it was determined that the Department of Agriculture had, for decades, been guilty of civil rights violations against United States agricultural producers participating, or attempting to participate, in Department programs;

      (4) in 1998, Congress created a 2-year waiver of the statute of limitations to allow persons injured by discrimination by the Department to seek redress in court or by filing an administrative compliant with the Department;

      (5) despite the waiver of the statute of limitations, it remains a difficult challenge to ensure that agricultural producers injured by discrimination by the Department over the years will get a speedy and balanced resolution of their complaints because it appears now that--

        (A) a number of complaints that have already been investigated by investigators hired by the Office of Civil Rights of the Department are not being resolved; and

        (B) nothing is being done to expeditiously resolve these cases; and

      (6) it is unfair for agricultural producers to be faced with these delays because--

        (A) the producers cannot get on with their lives, or plan their farming operations, until their complaints are resolved; and

        (B) the producers are being wronged a second time by delays in resolving meritorious complaints.

    (b) PURPOSES- It is the purpose of this Act--

      (1) to impose on the Department of Agriculture a reasonable time limit to resolve the complaints described in subsection (a); and

      (2) if the Department fails to meet the reasonable time limit, to enable complainants to seek the experience and expertise of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice in resolving the complaints in a timely manner.

SEC. 3. WAIVER OF STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.

    Section 741(b) of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1999 (7 U.S.C. 2279 note; Public Law 105-277) is amended--

      (1) by redesignating paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) as subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C), respectively;

      (2) by striking ‘(b) The’ and inserting the following:

    ‘(b) ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATIONS-

      ‘(1) IN GENERAL- The’;

      (3) by indenting the margins of subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) (as so redesignated) to reflect the amendment made by paragraph (2); and

      (4) by adding at the end the following:

      ‘(2) REVIEW BY DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE-

        ‘(A) IN GENERAL- If a complainant seeks a determination by the Department of Agriculture on the merits of an eligible complaint under paragraph (1) and the complaint is not resolved by the Department within 270 days after the complaint has been investigated by the Department, the complainant may petition the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice--

          ‘(i) to review the complaint; and

          ‘(ii) to make recommendations to the Department of Agriculture to resolve the complaint.

        ‘(B) DEADLINE- The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice shall conduct the review, and make recommendations to resolve the complaint, not later than 30 days after the complainant files a petition under subparagraph (A).

        ‘(C) ACCESS TO REVIEW FOR OTHER CASES-

          ‘(i) IN GENERAL- The right to review by the Department of Justice under this paragraph shall be made available to any complainant with a complaint that--

            ‘(I) is not considered an eligible complaint under the time criteria described in subsection (e); and

            ‘(II) is pending at the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Agriculture on the date of enactment of this paragraph.

          ‘(ii) TOLLING- In the case of any complaint that is reviewed by the Department of Justice under this paragraph, after the review process is completed--

            ‘(I) the complainant--

‘(aa) shall be deemed to have exhausted the administrative remedies of the complainant; and

‘(bb) may file an action on the complaint in United States District Court; and

            ‘(II) any applicable statute of limitations shall be tolled for the period beginning on the date that the complaint was filed at the Department of Agriculture and ending on the date of completion of the review by the Department of Justice.’.