May 31, 2018

House Appropriations Committee approves FY 2019 CJS funding bill

The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill May 17 that, in addition to funding the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) at $410 million, would increase or continue funding for numerous other programs of interest to the ABA.

The $62.5 billion bill provides appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.  Under the bill, the Department of Justice would receive an increase of $793 million for a total of $30.7 billion.

The bill would increase funding for the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) by $126 million for a total of $630 million to add 100 new judges and support staff. At the same time, the committee report directs EOIR to continue to build on its recent setting of new prioritization standards and court-based performance measures and to work with the Department of Homeland Security to develop metrics, practices and pilot programs to institute rapid court proceedings at holding facilities along the Southwest border.

Violence Against Women Act programs would receive $493 million, including $45 million for civil legal assistance, $5 million for the Elder Abuse Grant Program, $35.5 million for transitional housing assistance, $40 million for rural domestic violence and child abuse enforcement, and $4 million for tribal special domestic violence efforts.

Overall funding for juvenile justice programs would be reduced by $83 million to $199 million, but funding would increase for youth mentoring grants by $6 million for a total of $100 million.

Funding amounts for other ABA-supported programs in the legislation include:

  • a $38 million increase to $7.15 billion for the Bureau of Prisons;
  • a $28 million increase to $85 million for Second Chance Act grants to help prisoners successfully re-enter their communities;
  • $12 million for the court-appointed advocate program;
  • $130 million for DNA analysis;
  • $100 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;
  • $2.5 million for improving juvenile indigent defense;
  • $50 million to reduce gun crimes and gang violence; and
  • $3 million for the Capital Litigation Improvement Fund.

Work also continued this month on other fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills moving through Congress. A bill to fund the legislative branch was approved May 8 by the House Appropriations Committee. That bill includes an increase of $40 million for the Library of Congress, bringing its funding to $709.8 million.  The increase, according to the committee report, will allow for enhancements to the public exhibits and visitor services, which will improve the Library’s ability to bring the nation’s collections and history out of the vaults into public spaces, and provide for information technology modernization within the library, including the Law Library of Congress.

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.

Back to the May 2018 Washington Letter