The budget deal Congress approved late last night to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling provides $51 million more to the judiciary and to federal defenders, reports Legal Times. Courts officials and Senate Judiciary Committee members greeted the increase as good news, although it is small when compared to $350 million in budget cuts earlier this year as part of sequestration.
In the bill, $1.012 billion would go to defender services, a $26 million annual increase over last fiscal year for attorneys who represent indigent defendants, said Charles Hall of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The bill also includes $4.8 billion for judiciary salaries and expenses, a $25 million increase over last fiscal year. The legislation gives judiciary officials the ability to float those funds among accounts to respond to the most urgent budget needs. A spokesman for Sen. Christopher Coons (D-De.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Bankruptcy and the Courts, said the funding levels should end furloughs of federal defenders. “While this doesn’t fully restore the Judiciary and the defenders to the funding levels they need to fully execute their constitutional mission, this increase is a much-needed lifeline,” said Coons spokesman Ian Koski.