LEGAL AID

Congress OKs $25M increase for Legal Services Corporation

Despite a White House threat to eliminate all federal funds for the Legal Services Corporation, Congress on Dec. 20 approved $440 million for LSC for fiscal 2020 – an increase of $25 million above current funding of $415 million.

Legal Services Corporation provides vital support for legal aid organizations that operate offices across the country.

Legal Services Corporation provides vital support for legal aid organizations that operate offices across the country.

ABA President Judy Perry Martinez applauded Congress’ vote. “LSC works to ensure equal justice under law for all. That’s why support for LSC is bipartisan,” she said. “The ABA is pleased that, with this funding, the Legal Services Corporation will continue its critical work helping low-income Americans in every community across the nation.”

Despite the increased funding, LSC still receives far less federal money than it did in the 1970s and ’80s when adjusted for inflation. At its peak in 1979 and 1980, LSC received the equivalent of more than $1 billion from the federal government in 2019 dollars. During the 1980s, LSC received, on average, the equivalent of $744 million a year in 2019 dollars.

LSC funding for 2020 was part of a large budget package adopted by Congress just hours before a deadline for shutting down the federal government. President Donald Trump signed the budget bill later that same day.

Last spring, for the third year in a row, the White House had proposed eliminating LSC from the federal budget. Congress’ action showed that LSC’s mission is supported by both Republicans and Democrats.

LSC provides vital support for 132 legal aid organizations that operate 852 offices across the country, serving every congressional district. These offices helped more than 1.8 million people in the United States last year, including survivors of domestic abuse, victims of natural disasters, families being unfairly evicted from their homes and veterans who need help.

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