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Judge Extends Cobell Settlement Deadline (Oct 16, 2010)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A judge has set Jan. 7 as the new deadline for Congress to approve a $3.4 billion settlement with hundreds of thousands of Native Americans.

The U.S. Senate has adjourned 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.

Bill McAllister, a spokesman for the plaintiffs, says U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan told attorneys during a status conference Friday that he wanted to give Congress one last chance to approve the settlement to avoid costly litigation.

The Senate will reconvene Nov. 15. The House has approved the settlement twice since May.

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