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March 2018 Washington Letter


This Month's Articles

Pro Bono

LSC receives $25 million increase for fiscal year 2018 in omnibus appropriations legislation signed by the president

ABA President Hilarie Bass commended Congress for passing an omnibus fiscal year 2018 spending bill this month that includes $410 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) − a $25 million increase over the program’s fiscal year 2017 level of $385 million. “The ABA is encouraged that Congress sees the importance of LSC to the lives of their constituents,” Bass said in a statement issued on March 23, the day President Trump signed the legislation, P.L. 115-141 (H.R. 1625).

Creditors' Rights

House panel approves bill to exempt creditor lawyers engaged in litigation from FDCPA, CFPB regulation

The House Financial Services Committee approved ABA-supported bipartisan legislation March 21 that would clarify that the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) does not apply to creditor lawyers’ litigation activities and that the existing “Practice of Law Exclusion” in Dodd-Frank Act that limits the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) broad regulatory authority covers both consumer and creditor lawyers.

Legal Education

ABA highlights priorities for reauthorization of HEA

The ABA recently laid out its views on several major issues that will be considered by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee when it begins the process of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act this year. In a Feb. 23 letter to committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman emphasized the pivotal role the ABA has played in numerous areas: developing standards for legal education; accrediting law schools; and supporting programs that help law students afford law school and enter public service employment despite high student debt.

Access to Justice

ABA president urges DOJ to continue focus on preserving access to justice for all

ABA President Hilarie Bass urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) this month to continue to prioritize access to justice under the law for all Americans as part of its core mission and expressed support for the work of the Office of Access to Justice, which was established in 2010 to address the access-to-justice crisis in the criminal and civil justice systems. In a March 12 letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Bass emphasized that the crisis that led to the establishment of the office still exists and Americans need the department’s leadership in helping eliminate barriers to legal access.

Washington News Briefs

About the Washington Letter

The ABA Washington Letter is a monthly publication produced by the Governmental Affairs Office to report and analyze congressional and executive branch action on legislative issues of interest to the ABA and the legal profession. The newsletter highlights ABA involvement in the federal legislative process and focuses on the association's legislative and governmental priorities and other issues on which the ABA has policy.

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