June 4, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC -- The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies approved a $440 million, Fiscal Year 2010 budget for the Legal Services Corporation today.
The funding increase was announced by Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee, and represents a nearly 13 percent increase in the LSC budget. Chairman Mollohan also announced the bill would continue existing limitations on the use of funds but would lift the restriction on the ability of LSC-funded programs to collect attorneys' fees. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) is the subcommittee's ranking member.
"The Legal Services Corporation is grateful and most appreciative of the strong support shown by Chairman Mollohan, Ranking Member Wolf and all subcommittee members for our mission -- to promote equal access to justice and to provide high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and families," LSC President Helaine M. Barnett said.
The decision to recommend the funding increase comes two months after LSC President Barnett and LSC Board of Directors Vice Chairman Lillian R. BeVier testified before the subcommittee. Barnett testified that the current economic downtown disproportionately affects the poor, placing them at greater risk of losing jobs, housing and access to health care. She also noted that LSC-funded programs even before the recession were turning away 50 percent of eligible low-income Americans seeking civil legal assistance.
"In the face of this economic recession, the justice gap is growing, and this important step taken by the subcommittee will help LSC-funded legal aid programs to better serve the nation's low-income communities," LSC President Barnett said.
The people who come to LSC-funded programs for help include women seeking protection from abuse, families facing unlawful evictions or foreclosures that could leave them homeless, disaster victims trying to obtain emergency assistance, persons with disabilities, military veterans and others with pressing civil legal problems.
Congress provided LSC with a $390 million budget for Fiscal 2009. In his budget recommendations for Fiscal 2010, President Obama asked Congress to provide LSC with $435 million. The LSC Board of Directors requested $485.8 million for Fiscal 2010.