March 23, 2018

Statement of Hilarie Bass, ABA president Re: Legal Services Corporation funding in spending bill

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2018 —The American Bar Association commends Congress for passing an omnibus spending bill that provides an increase in funding to the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The legislation provides $410 million for LSC in Fiscal Year 2018, an increase of $25 million from the funding level for the past two fiscal years and the highest appropriation since 2010. 

The ABA is encouraged that Congress understands the importance of LSC to the lives of their constituents. LSC helps more than 1.8 million low-income Americans nationwide gain access to the courts for cases involving domestic violence, disaster relief, housing, veteran benefits, and child custody. The extra funding will allow LSC to assist at least an additional 100,000 people.

Even with this welcomed increase, more funding is needed. In the past year, low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help for 86 percent of their civil legal problems, according to a nonpartisan research organization at the University of Chicago. For FY2019, the ABA is requesting LSC funding of $482 million, which would match the FY2010 funding level when adjusted for inflation.

The ABA also applauds the appropriation of an additional $2.3 million to correct deficiencies in Department of Education’s efforts to educate and certify borrowers about their eligibility for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. People choosing long-term careers in lower-paying jobs that serve Americans should have full transparency and access to information about this program.

These budget successes highlight the ABA’s critical role to advocate for issues of importance to its more than 400,000 members. We will continue to relentlessly fight for our members and for the good of the legal profession.

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