Issue: Legal Services Corporation Appropriations
LSC is a major source of funding for impoverished litigants in many state courts. Cuts would increase the number of pro se litigants or limit access to the courts.
Congress should provide adequate funding for LSC.
Since 1995, the LSC has been under attack in Congress (particularly in the House), which culminated in a FY1996 budget cut from $400M to $278M. There also were a number of new restrictions on types of cases and clients LSC could serve. These restrictions have been maintained in each appropriations bill since that time although the U.S. Supreme Court in LSC v. Velaquez struck down the restriction on welfare litigation. After a long fight, the FY2001 appropriation for LSC was increased to $329M.
For FY2007, the 109th Congress approved a continuing resolution (H J Res 20) to generally provide FY 2006 level funding through 9/30/07. $313.9 million was included for the LSC, which was $12.7 million less than received in FY 2006. The continuing resolution did not include earmarks, as Chairmen Robert Byrd (D-WV) and David Obey (D-WI) called for a one-year moratorium until a new process for including and identifying earmarks could be implemented.For FY 2008, the Senate requested $390 million for this program in S 1745. The House, in its version of the appropriations bill (HR 3093), approved $377 million. LSC received $350 million in the FY08 omnibus appropriations legislation (PL 110-161).
For FY 2009, the Senate has given LSC $390 million. The House has awarded the same amount. The program is currently operating under the continuing resolution, which expires on 3/6/09.