Judiciary's Fiscal Year 2011 Funding
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Judge Julia Gibbons, Conference Budget Committee Chair, explains the importance of a well-supported Judiciary while presenting the Judiciary's FY 2012 request to Congress.
The final fiscal year 2011 continuing resolution (H.R. 1473) was signed into law (Pub. L. No. 112-10) on April 15, 2011. Considering the budget climate at the time, the Judiciary did very well. The Judiciary received a final FY 2011 funding level of $6.91 billion—about 1 percent above a FY 2010 hard-freeze level. Given that the congressional appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over the Judiciary had 10 percent less money to allocate in FY 2011 than in FY 2010, it is clear that Congress made the Judiciary a funding priority. The funding provided was sufficient to meet minimum requirements for the Judiciary accounts, including Salaries and Expenses, Defender Services, and Court Security. Most courts were able to support onboard payroll levels.
Fiscal Year 2012 Funding
Working with a House-passed Budget Resolution that had a total FY 2012 spending level for discretionary programs $30 billion below FY 2011, the House Appropriations Committee had a difficult time providing funding allocations to its 12 subcommittees sufficient to meet the requirements of the agencies under their jurisdiction. Consequently, on June 23, 2011, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2012 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations bill (H.R. 2434), with a funding level of $6.76 billion for the Judiciary—$143 million or 2.1 percent below the FY 2011 enacted appropriations level. The courts' Salaries and Expenses account was particularly hard hit, receiving $4.80 billion—$213 million or 4.3 percent below FY 2011.
On August 2, 2011, a deficit reduction agreement was reached between Congress and the Administration. A cornerstone of the Budget Control Act was the establishment of a government-wide discretionary budget cap of $1.043 billion for FY 2012. While the spending cap is $7 billion, or about 1 percent below FY 2011 enacted appropriations, it is $20 billion above the discretionary budget cap approved for FY 2012 by the House and used as the basis for the funding level proposed for the Judiciary in the House bill in June.
On September 15, 2011, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FSGG Appropriations Bill (S. 1573), with $6.93 billion recommended for the Judiciary. While only $27 million above the FY 2011 enacted appropriation, it was $169 million more than the House level primarily because the Senate allocations were higher as a result of the debt deal.
On October 6, 2011, a formal appeal letter was transmitted from Judge Julia S. Gibbons, Chair of the Judicial Conference Budget Committee, and then-Acting AO Director Jill C. Sayenga, to the Chair and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Financial Services and General Government, urging that the Judiciary be provided with a funding level of $7.030 billion in conference to meet absolute minimum requirements and to prevent the loss of current on-board staff.
On December 23, 2011, the President signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, an omnibus spending measure that provided full-year funding for nine fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills, including the FSGG bill that funds the Judiciary.
Overall, the Judiciary received $6.97 billion in the omnibus bill, about a 1 percent increase above the FY 2011 enacted level, and $206 million above the House bill and $36 million above the Senate bill. The omnibus funds the courts' Salaries and Expenses account at $5.02 billion, slightly above the fiscal year 2011 level, and $224 million and $45 million above the House and Senate bills, respectively. The bill provides full funding for the Defender Services, Court Security, and Fees of Jurors accounts based on revised requirements for those accounts.
The funding level the Judiciary received in the omnibus bill, while a modest increase above FY 2011, represented a significant achievement given the current federal budget situation. The budget cap established in the Budget Control Act of about 1 percent below FY 2011 meant that many federal agencies in the Judiciary's spending bill received cuts well below FY 2011; yet the Judiciary achieved nearly a 1 percent increase.
The omnibus bill also included a general provision amending Title 31 to require the President to transmit promptly to Congress without change, proposed deficiency and supplemental appropriations submitted to the President by the Judicial Branch. The Office of Management and Budget, as part of the President's budget, currently transmits to Congress the Judiciary's annual budget without change, however, there is no statutory requirement to do so with the Judiciary's requests for supplemental funding. This has been problematic in the past when Congress has refused to consider a request for emergency supplemental funding for the Judiciary that was not included in the official transmittal from the President. This statutory change will ensure this does not happen in the future.
Fiscal Year 2012 Funding for U.S. Marshals Services
In addition, it should be noted that a total of $18.3 million in funding was provided to the United States Marshals Service (USMS), in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (Pub. Law No. 112-55, Division B, Title II, Department of Justice) to support border enforcement initiatives. Of that increased funding, $10 million was provided for deputy U.S. marshals and staff and $8.3 million was designated for detention upgrades at federal courthouses. These are significant earmarks that have not happened within those Department of Justice (DOJ) accounts in the recent past and should be helpful to courts in border locations.
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