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August 2006

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


Judiciary's FY 2007 Funding OK'd by Senate Appropriations Committee

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved its version of H.R. 5576, the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2007, with $6.098 billion for the Judiciary. The House already has passed its version of H.R. 5576, giving the Judiciary $6.063 billion.

August recess began before the full Senate could vote on the appropriations bill. The Senate will reconvene the first week of September, but it is not expected that the House and Senate will be able to conference their differing versions of the appropriations bills before the fall elections. The Judiciary will most likely begin FY 2007 under a continuing resolution.

The level of funding provided by the Senate Appropriations Committee is a 6.9 percent increase over the Judiciary's FY 2006 appropriations and $35.2 million above the House level. The Judiciary requested $6.207 in funding for FY 2007.

The Fees of Jurors account was fully funded at both the House and the Senate Appropriations Committee mark. The Court Security account was not fully funded by either the House or the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Defender Services account received $761 million: $11 million above the House mark, but $21.7 million below current services.

The Committee's report stipulates that for FY 2008 and thereafter, "the Judicial Branch's annual budget submission shall include a detailed five-year plan for courthouse construction projects with a yearly update of total projected future funding needs for rent payments and construction costs."

The Judicial Conference established a Five-Year Plan for courthouse construction in the late 1990s. The plan follows a prioritization process in which all courthouse requests are scored based on four criteria: the year the building is projected to be out of space; security; operational problems at existing court facilities such as the building's physical condition; and the number of judges needing space. The Judicial Conference in March approved a list of new courthouse construction projects for FY 2008, but has not yet updated the most recent Five-Year Plan.