The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal year 2019 bill June 14 that would maintain funding at $410 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) – the same amount approved in May by the House Appropriations Committee.
The ABA, however, urged Congress in testimony recently to approve $482 million for LSC in fiscal year 2019, an amount that would restore the corporation’s funding to its fiscal year 2010 level adjusted for inflation and help narrow America’s “justice gap.” While LSC, which supports nearly 900 legal aid offices across the country in every congressional district, received a $25 million increase to $410 million for fiscal year 2018, the program’s funding is still 15 percent lower than it was in fiscal year 2010 even as the number of people qualifying for assistance is about 25 percent higher than in 2007.
The LSC funding is part of S. 3072, the $63 billion bill providing appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies that also includes funding increases for other programs supported by the ABA.
The Department of Justice would receive an increase of $793 million for a total of $30.7 billion.
Highlights of the funding in the bill include:
- $563 million for the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), which would include not less than $10.4 million for the Legal Orientation Program providing critical legal information and assistance to adults held in immigration detention centers around the country.
- $497.5 million for programs under the Violence Against Women Act, which includes $45 million for civil legal assistance, $36 million for transitional housing assistance, $42 million for rural domestic violence and child abuse enforcement, and $4 million for tribal special domestic violence efforts;
- $297 million for juvenile justice programs;
- $7.25 billion for the Bureau of Prisons;
- $90 million for Second Chance Act grants to help prisoners successfully re-enter their communities;
- $12 million for the court-appointed advocate program;
- $132 million for DNA analysis;
- $85 million for services for victims of human trafficking;
- $75 million for grants to upgrade criminal and mental health records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System;
- $2 million for improving juvenile indigent defense;
- $50 million to reduce gun crimes and gang violence; and
- $5 million for the Capital Litigation Improvement Fund.
The Senate Appropriations Committee also approved fiscal year funding for the legislative branch, which includes $687 million for the Library of Congress and Law Library of Congress. The figure, which is $17.5 million above the library’s current appropriation, will provide support for functions for Congress and services for the public, as well as continued modernization of information technology systems.
The ABA, which has a long history of working with the library through its Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress, wrote letters to both the House and Senate urging support for increased funding.
In other action this month, on June 13 the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2019 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, which includes a $155 million increase for the federal judiciary that brings its total to $7.2 billion.