HOUSE CJS SPENDING BILL SEEKS TO INCREASE LSC FUNDING 33% TO $550M
On May 16, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee released their draft of the Fiscal Year 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Act, which would fund the Legal Services Corporation at $550 million—a 33% increase over Fiscal Year 2019 funding.
The bill is scheduled to be marked up by the subcommittee at 9:30am on May 17, 2019. Full House Appropriations Committee movement is expected to ensue within approximately one week. Passage by the full House of Representatives is not yet scheduled.
Resolving the differences between the House bill and the Senate bill and the Administration’s position will not be easy. The process for enactment is likely to take at least six months.
On May 6, 2019, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) released their 302(b) sub-allocations for the twelve appropriations subcommittee bills.
The full CJS appropriations bill, which contains funding for the Legal Services Corporation, was allocated $66.4 billion—a 3.6% increase over Fiscal Year 2019 funding.
The full House Appropriations Committee approved the sub-allocations over the objections of all Republicans. Top Appropriations Committee Republican Kay Granger (R-TX) said,
“The allocations offered by the Democrats are based on topline funding levels that I do not support. I also question the Democrats’ priorities [citing a “humanitarian and security crisis at our southern boarder’]… More work needs to be done by the House, the Senate, and the White House to find a way forward on next year’s spending levels, and that is why I voted no today.”
UPCOMING DISASTER BILL
Senators are arguing the cost and breadth of an upcoming emergency disaster supplemental spending bill.
Previous iterations of this bill in both the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), and the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, chaired by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), have both included $15 million for the Legal Services Corporation in emergency disaster funding—without funding restrictions previously used for LSC disaster funding.
Democrats seek aid for 2017 disasters in addition to 2018 disasters, while Republicans seek to control spending and to focus on 2018 disasters.
On 2/26/2019, Georgia Republican Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue introduced a $13.6 billion version containing $610 million in nutrition benefits for 1.4 million Puerto Rico residents.
Senator Shelby and Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are negotiating a more expansive version.
LSC FISCAL YEAR 2019 APPROPRIATIONS
On February 15, 2019, the Consolidate Appropriations Act, 2019 became law. The enactment followed a partial and extended government shutdown. In the Fiscal Year 2019 Commerce Justice Science Appropriations title of the law, the Legal Services Corporation received $415,000,000. The text is available here and is linked below under the Resources tab at left.
The President is calling for the elimination of the Legal Services Corporation. Make a stand for legal aid!
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) ensures “Equal Justice Under Law” by enabling access to the justice system for vulnerable Americans.
LSC, the central foundation for the legal aid system, provides the backbone for America’s civil legal aid and pro bono system.
93.7% of LSC’s total budget is awarded in grants to 133 civil legal aid programs with over 800 offices nationwide. At least one LSC grantee serves each county and territory of the United States.
For decades the ABA has advocated Legal Services Corporation funding as the embodiment of the federal government’s role in securing the federal rights and duties it created for the people—securing the core American value of equal justice under law.
The LSC has always had bipartisan support in Congress, and polling indicates 82% of Americans support equal access to justice that protects the vulnerable.