WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2012— Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) will receive the American Bar Association’s Congressional Justice Award on April 17 for championing legal assistance programs for veterans and funding for the Legal Services Corporation.
As chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Murray has sponsored many bills that help improve the lives of veterans throughout the country. She is an outspoken advocate for veterans’ access to quality care and benefits, including legal assistance services.
The ABA has a longstanding commitment to assist with the legal needs of servicemembers, which include securing medical care, disability benefits, re-employment, consumer needs, housing, criminal justice issues and family law matters. The association has created a host of programs, projects, initiatives and services to aid veterans. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project and ABA Home Front provide legal resources for military families. The ABA Young Lawyers Division has launched Project Salute: Young Lawyers Serving Veterans, a year-long mission to inform veterans about their rights and assist them with obtaining benefits via legal clinics throughout the nation.
“As the daughter of a disabled World War II veteran and as a college intern at the Seattle VA, I have witnessed the sacrifice that military service demands,” said Senator Murray. “And now as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am able to work on veterans and servicemembers’ behalf every day to ensure they’re getting the quality care and services they deserve. I am honored to accept this award and I’d like to thank the ABA for its commitment to providing legal resources to our nation’s heroes and their families.”
“Through Senator Murray’s diligent work as a member of the Appropriations and Deficit Reduction committees and as chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, she has strengthened our justice system and protected veterans in Washington and around the country,” said ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III.
Last year, Murray worked to prevent a potentially devastating $104.2 million (25.7 percent) cut to the LSC budget of $404.2 million in fiscal year 2010. While the House of Representatives proposed funding LSC at $300 million, the Senate favored an allocation of $396 million. Ultimately, funding was set at $348 million.
With 63 million Americans—including 22 million children—qualifying for assistance, LSC is the nation’s single largest provider of civil legal aid to citizens who live on incomes below or near the poverty line. Independent LSC-funded local programs, like Northwest Justice Project, help meet the overwhelming legal needs of struggling families, veterans, disaster victims and the elderly in every state. In 2011, LSC-funded aid providers in Washington closed nearly 16,000 cases including child custody matters, foreclosures and veterans claims.
Murray is also a supporter of ABA priority issues, including the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and the Crime Victim Restitution and Court Fee Intercept Act, the latter of which would enable the collection of court-ordered financial obligations.
Murray will receive one of the six ABA Congressional Justice Awards that will be given as part of the ABA’s annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession. ABA Day 2012brings distinguished lawyers from 50 states to Washington, D.C., to discuss issues such as funding for LSC, the Violence Against Women Act, and the collection of overdue state court-ordered fees.
Other recipients of the 2012 ABA Congressional Justice Award include Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7th), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-K-5th).
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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