Issue: Commerce Justice Science Appropriations
Court access to federal grant funds is included in these bills, as well as agencies that are important to state court operations.
State courts advocate full funding for those programs created to assist state courts to respond to federal initiatives and implement federal mandates on state courts. Court leaders have also supported adding language that would permit their participation in the planning and funding of other federal programs that affect their workloads.
The Departments of Commerce-Justice-Science appropriation bills contain programs of interest to state courts. These bills also define eligibility for state and local government entities to apply for these funds. Eligible recipients of funds at the local level are usually defined as “states and units of local government,” which has been interpreted to exclude direct funding for the judiciary.
The President released his annual budget on 2/4/08. For law and justice assistance programs, the budget reflects a 3% cut over FY 08 funding amounts. His proposal was not warmly received by the Hill, as he proposed to eliminate some popular law related grant programs such as the Byrne-JAG program, the COPS program, and the rebates to local governments for incarcerating undocumented immigrants.The House and Senate approved their respective budget resolutions in March. As of 7/17/08, the House and Senate had approved various appropriations bills at the committee level, including the CJS and the Labor-HHS-Education spending bills. However, no bill has actually cleared either chamber. This portends that we are headed towards another omnibus appropriations bill funding the entire government for FY 09. Progress on appropriations bills has been slow and there has been much micromanaging of funding bills by Speaker Pelosi. The appropriations committees have stated they want to finish marking up all appropriations bills by the end of July.
Congress sent an appropriations/continuing resolution bill (HR 2638) to the President. HR 2638 to fund some departments at new 2009 levels, but leave the others operating at 2008 levels. HR 2638 only awarded funding to the US Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Other agencies that we traditionally follow, such as the US Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, will continue to operate at 2008 levels. This continuing resolution expires on 3/6/09. The President signed HR 2638 on 9/30/08 making it Public Law 110-329.