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House Appropriations Committee Approves FY 09 Funding
The House Appropriations Committee approved the Judiciary’s fiscal year 2009 appropriations bill at the end of June and it was good news for the courts. Overall, the Judiciary received $6.52 billion, a 4.5 percent increase over the FY 2008 level. For the Salaries and Expenses account that funds court operations, this amounts to a 4.6 percent increase. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government is expected to mark up its version of the Judiciary’s appropriations bill in mid July.
Administrative Office Director James C. Duff cautioned that the FY 2009 appropriations process could extend into next year because of spending differences between Congress and the President.
“There is a growing consensus that most and likely all FY 2009 appropriations bills will be delayed until a new Administration takes office,” Duff said, “meaning the Judiciary could be under a continuing resolution through February or March of 2009.”
“Courts are encouraged to continue hiring staff this fiscal year as workload needs necessitate and current funding allocations allow,” Duff continued. “There will be sufficient funding under a continuing resolution to maintain these new staff.”
In addition to $4.8 billion for the Salaries and Expenses account, the House bill would fund the Defender Services account at $863 million. This would include a 10 percent increase in the panel attorney non-capital rate to $110 per hour in FY 2009. Both the Court Security account, which received $430 million, and the Fees of Jurors account, at $62 million, would be fully funded.
The House bill also includes funding for the General Services Administration, which builds the Judiciary’s courthouses. The bill would provide funding for the San Diego courthouse project to cover a cost overrun as well as funding for repair and alterations projects for the Everett M. Dirksen U.S Courthouse in Chicago, Illinois, and the New Bern, North Carolina U.S. Post Office and Courthouse. The White House did not request, nor did the House fund, any of the projects on the Judiciary’s FY 2009 courthouse construction plan.