October 17, 2018

Legal Services Corporation

Latest Developments

CONTINUING RESOLUTION EXTENDS LSC FUNDING THROUGH DECEMBER 7

On September 28, President Trump signed H.R. 6157 (P.L. 115-245) which provided full-year funding for the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Education. The bill also includes a continuing resolution to ensure that the entire federal government will be funded through December 7, 2018. This includes funding LSC at $410 million.

ABA APPLAUDS PASSAGE OF THE POWER ACT

On September 18, the ABA sent thank you letters to the House and Senate co-sponsors of the POWER Act for their leadership on passing the bill and requires the chief judge from each judicial district to promote annually pro bono legal services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The law, which was enacted September 4th, includes in its findings the ABA Model Rules and commentary stating that “every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional workload, has a responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay, and personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer.”

ABA SUPPORTS LSC BOARD NOMINATIONS

On September 11, the ABA sent a letter to the Senate HELP committee regarding the nominations to the Legal Services Corporation Board of Directors. The ABA supports the confirmation of Robert J. Grey, Jr., Abigail L. Kuzma, John G. Levi, John G. Malcolm, Frank X. Neuner, Jr., and Gloria Valencia-Weber.

Click here to read more of the latest developments on LSC

Overview

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.

Budget and Appropriations Process for FY 2019

In practice, Congress has moved to biennial budgeting in recent years. For Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, the budgets were set on 2/9/2018.

The normal budget process calls for the U.S. House and Senate Budget Committees to consider the Administration’s annual budget proposal and then to produce an annual budget establishing the total amount of discretionary spending for the fiscal year beginning October 1st and ending September 30th. However, the Administration submitted the Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal to Congress on 2/12/2018, three days after the FY2019 budget was set.

Fiscal Year 2019 defense spending and non-defense spending will increase by $5 billion each over the Fiscal Year 2018 levels.

At this point, the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees can begin writing the 12 appropriations bills that set the spending for the federal government.

In recent years, the 12 appropriations bills have routinely been bundled into an omnibus appropriations bill.

Appropriations bills are supposed to be completed before the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1st, but the deadlines are regularly breached, necessitating continuing resolutions (CRs) that fund government through a new deadline. Congress often needs 4 or 5 CRs per year before the final appropriations bills can be enacted.

ABA Policy

The ABA supports a strong, federally funded, community controlled program to provide legal aid for the poor. The ABA favors substantial private bar involvement in the delivery of legal services and actively encourages pro bono participation by individual attorneys, law firms, and corporate general counsels.

Resources

ABA RESOURCES

LETTERS OF SUPPORT

PRESS

HELPFUL WEBSITES

Legal Aid Directory

Click here for a list of legal aid offices by state. The list includes national and state-specific resources for both veterans and non-military persons who qualify for legal aid.

Contact

Aloysius Hogan, Esq.
Legislative Counsel

Governmental Affairs Office
American Bar Association
1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Direct: (202) 662-1767
FAX: (202) 662-1762
Aloysius.Hogan@americanbar.org