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February 2007

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


Congress OKs Judiciary's Fiscal Year 2007 Funding

It was called a continuing resolution, but in effect House Joint Resolution 20 was the long-awaited $464 billion appropriations bill for fiscal year 2007. Just hours before the continuing resolution, PL 109-383, was due to expire on February 15, Congress approved appropriations for most of the government through September 30, 2007. The funding came over four months into the fiscal year. For the remaining months of FY 2007, the Judiciary will receive $5.980 billion in enacted appropriations, a 4.9 percent increase over 2006.

Only two fiscal year 2007 spending bills were approved before the 109th Congress ended in December 2006. The FY 2007 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, and Independent Agencies Appropriation bill was one of nine uncompleted appropriations bills waiting for the 110th Congress when it began in January 2007. Under PL 109-383, agencies and programs had been operating at fiscal year 2006 funding levels. The new funding bill gives the Judiciary an increase over FY 2006 levels and is expected to be signed by the President.

The Judiciary’s original FY 2007 request had been for $6.26 billion. However, operating under a continuing resolution for several months has meant freezes in hiring, training and purchasing for the Judiciary, "essentially reducing our requirements to the bare minimum," said Administrative Office Director Jim Duff. "The 4.9 percent increase should be sufficient for the federal courts to maintain current services and take on some increases in workload for what remains of the fiscal year," he said. "We are very grateful that Congress has funded the Judiciary at this level for the remainder of FY 2007 during a period of a general hard freeze for much of government."

The Judiciary Requested

The Judiciary Received
$6.51 billion for FY 2008 Request pending with Congress
$6.26 billion for FY 2007 $5.98 billion for FY 2007
$5.95 billion for FY 2006 $5.70 billion for FY 2006

White House Budget for Fiscal Year 2008

This year, hewing to the traditional budgetary cycle meant the White House sent Congress its Fiscal Year 2008 budget request before Fiscal Year 2007 funding had been resolved for most agencies. As a result, the Judiciary based its FY 2008 appropriation request of $6.51 billion on an assumed FY 2007 appropriation.

"At the time of our FY 2008 budget submission to the Office of Management and Budget," said Duff, "our request was based upon assumed appropriation levels in House and Senate bills—action taken by the 109th Congress. The fiscal year 2008 request will be updated now that FY 2007 appropriations have been enacted by the 110th Congress."

The Judiciary's FY 2008 request is an 8.1 percent increase over FY 2007. The request is based upon known workload in the courts and standard government-wide increases in pay, benefits and inflation. Increases are requested to provide for, among other items, inflationary pay and benefit rate increases, a change in the number of active and senior Article III judges, uncontrollable workload changes in Defender Services and unfunded FY 2007 panel attorney payments, security–related adjustments, and additional staff to address FY 2008 workload increases.

The first of the Judiciary's appropriations hearing are scheduled for mid-March in the House. Judge Julia S. Gibbons (6th Cir.), chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Budget, and Administrative Office Director Jim Duff, will testify on behalf of the Judicial Conference.