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June 2007

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


"A Good First Step" in FY 08 Funding Process

The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the federal courts’ fiscal year 2008 appropriations bill in early June. Overall, the Judiciary would receive $6.258 billion, a 4.7 percent increase over FY 2007 funding levels, with a 4.1 percent increase for the Salaries and Expenses account. The Judiciary had requested an overall 7.6 percent increase above FY 07 enacted appropriations with a 6.7 percent increase in the Salaries and Expenses account. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

“The mark for the Salaries and Expenses account is not as high as we had hoped,”said Administrative Office Director James C. Duff. “But it does provide funding sufficient to support additional staff that may be hired during fiscal year 2007 based on the courts’ workload needs, as provided for in the national financial plan and allotments to the courts.”

Other accounts within the Judiciary’s appropriations were not funded fully, although Duff remained optimistic, characterizing the overall mark as “a good first step.” The Defender Services account received $830.5 million, a 7.0 percent increase over FY 07. The Committee approved an increase in the panel attorney non-capital rate to $100 per hour—although the funding provided does not fund fully the account’s requirements at the increased rate. The Court Security account received $396.5 million, a 4.7 percent increase and equal to current services, but $18 million below full requirements. The Fees of Jurors account received $62.4 million, which is slightly below full requirements.

The House bill also extends the temporary judgeship in the Northern District of Ohio. Funding for the General Services Administration, which is included in the same spending bill as the Judiciary, would provide $525 million for new construction projects and $764 million for repair and alterations projects government-wide. The House bill does not specify which projects would be funded, so it is not possible at this time to say if any courthouse projects are included.

The FY 08 appropriations process still has a long way to go before completion. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Govern-ment was expected to mark-up its version of the bill in June. Potential roadblocks to completing FY 08 appropriations bills before October 1—the beginning of fiscal year 2008—include congressional and White House differences on overall spending and Iraq war funding, with the White House indicating it will veto bills that exceed the President’s budget request.