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October 2006

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


Continuing Resolution Funds Judiciary Until November

Only two appropriations bills—for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security—were completed by Congress and signed by the President before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2006. The remaining appropriations bills, including funding for the federal Judiciary, will wait for the lame duck session in November. In the meantime, a continuing resolution funds the federal government at fiscal year 2006 levels through November 17.

The House has passed H.R. 5576, the FY 2007 Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia, and Independent Agencies appropriations bill, which gives the Judiciary $6.063 billion. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the bill, with $6.098 billion for the Judiciary in FY2007. Differences in the House and Senate bills will be resolved in conference.

Proposed funding levels have raised Judiciary concerns. Although $16 million below current services requirements for the courts’ Salaries and Expenses account, the Senate level of funding is preferred over the lower House level. At the Senate funding level, and based on current carry-forward and fee-collection estimates, courts could hire staff to address some of the critical law enforcement related workload issues facing the Judiciary, particularly along the southwest border.

To avert reductions in federal defender organizations and deferred payments to panel attorneys, the Judiciary also is seeking a greater level of funding for the Defender Services account than is recommended by either the House or Senate. A funding shortfall at either the House or Senate level would result in delayed payments of appointed attorneys.