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Labyrinthian is a good word to describe the tangle of explanations given by Senate members for failing again on Sept. 29 to fund the settlements of Pigford II and Cobell, the class action discrimination lawsuits filed by black and Indian farmers.

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid say that passage was virtually assured, until Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma objected. Coburn’s aides say Reid’s process was the problem — that, and a lack of offsets and safeguards in the legislation — which wouldn’t have been a problem if Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-Wyo.) changes had been incorporated into the most recent attempt.

Reid’s people cry foul, saying that Sen. Barrasso’s issues had been resolved and he no longer objected to the settlements. Barrasso, by the way, was the senator fingered in the Aug. 5 failed attempt to pass the legislation — the seventh of nine failed attempts by my count. So now, at least according to Sen. Reid, it’s back to being Coburn’s fault.

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