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September 2010

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


Congress Considers Funding for Fiscal Year 2011

As in some past years, the Judiciary will likely begin Fiscal Year 2011 without an enacted appropriations bill and, instead, will be operating at FY 2010  funding levels under a continuing resolution. Depending on the outcome of the November congressional elections, final action on the Judiciary’s appropriations bill could take anywhere from three to six months to complete.

House & Senate Action

In July the Senate Appropriations Committee reported its version of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill (S. 3677), which would provide a 5.5 percent overall increase for the Judiciary. This increase, essentially what is requested in the Judiciary’s FY 2011 updated budget request, would allow the courts to fully fund current on-board staff and, with anticipated fee and carryover levels, would allow for staffing increases in those courts with the greatest workload increases.

“We are confident that sufficient funds will be available in FY 2011 to keep the courts operating at current levels.”

—Administrative Office Director Jim Duff

In its version of the bill, the House Appropriations Committee provides an overall increase of 3.9 percent for the Judiciary. This increase would fund the Judiciary at roughly 2010 service levels.

Despite the difference in House and Senate funding levels, at a minimum, funding should be available to retain court personnel on-board at the end of FY 2010.

“We are confident,” said Administrative Office Director Jim Duff, “that sufficient funds will be available in FY 2011 to keep the courts operating at current levels.” Duff added, “We hope Congress will acknowledge the growing criminal and bankruptcy caseload facing the courts and provide the additional resources needed by the Judiciary.”

Funding for Courthouse Projects

The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill also provides funding for the General Services Administration, which administers the courthouse construction program.  Although the White House did not include courthouse funding in its FY 2011 budget request, the Senate-reported bill includes the final $92 million needed to complete a scaled-down Los Angeles courthouse. The House bill does not fund the Los Angeles courthouse, but does include $10 million for the Mobile, Alabama, courthouse project.