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January 29, 2024

Second Session, 118th Congress: ABA Legislative Priorities

The ABA's Governmental Affairs Office is collaborating with ABA leaders and members to identify opportunities for legal advocacy on many issues.

The ABA's Governmental Affairs Office is collaborating with ABA leaders and members to identify opportunities for legal advocacy on many issues.

The legislative landscape in the 118th Congress has been marked by political gridlock and the historic turnover in the House Speaker's Office, but there also has been notable legislative movement on several priority issues in the form of amendments to must-pass legislation. With major elections on the horizon, the opportunity to enact critical legislation is diminishing. 

With Congress deliberating government funding, border security, and foreign aid during this Second Session of the 118th Congress, the ABA's Governmental Affairs Office is collaborating with ABA leaders and members to identify opportunities for legal advocacy on these issues:

Approaching Deadlines and Funding Challenges: Congress faces imminent deadlines, with the potential for a partial government shutdown looming if FY 2024 appropriations bills are not passed soon. The ABA is particularly focused on ensuring robust funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Funding for LSC will be a major issue during our ABA Day in Washington advocacy event on April10 and 11, and it will continue to be a marquee issue for the remainder of the year. If you want to get a jump-start and convey your support for LSC funding now, we have a template letter that may be modified and transmitted to your members available on our digital advocacy website that is available to ABA members for members and is guaranteed to make it through congressional firewalls. Click here to send in it seconds or take a moment to personalize it for more impact.

Federal Defender Services at a Crossroads: The proposed budget cuts to the Federal Defender Services program threatens the core principle of the right to counsel, established in Gideon v. Wainwright. The ABA is actively lobbying against these cuts, emphasizing their detrimental impact on the justice system, and advocating for sufficient funding to maintain this critical service. Want to do your part? Send this letter to your members of Congress, telling them that these cuts will hurt access to justice for your community. 

Immigration Policy and Border Security: As Congress negotiates a bipartisan border security deal, the ABA remains vigilant, advocating against provisions that undermine the legal protections afforded asylum seekers. We are committed to ensuring that any border security legislation respects the United States’ domestic and international legal obligations Click here for additional information about what the ABA is doing at the border, and send a letter in support of this issue to your members of Congress.

Student Debt Relief: With the Administration's recent efforts to provide student debt relief and legislation in Congress to reform the federal student loan system, the ABA continues to advocate for solutions to the escalating burden of student debt on legal professionals and students. Our focus is on protecting PSLF and ensuring access to student loans for a law degree and flexible terms for repaying them. Please follow us on Twitter (X) for ongoing updates as updates are coming in fast. 

The Implications of AI: The ABA is closely monitoring emerging AI developments and advocating for the design, development, and use of AI systems in accordance with policy adopted last February by the ABA House of Delegates.

ABA's Proactive Approach in a Complex Political Environment

As we navigate the complexities of the 118th Congress, the ABA remains committed to defending the rule of law and ensuring that the legal profession's voice is heard on Capitol Hill. We urge our members to join us to amplify the collective voice of the legal profession. If you are going to the ABA Midyear Meeting, please stop by the GAO Advocacy Pop-up Booth outside the Young Lawyers Division headquarters at the Marriot. There you will find ways to get involved. We hope you will check out the latest tools and resources by following @ABAGrassroots for real-time updates and advocacy opportunities on Twitter (X), LinkedIn, and Instagram.

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