WASHINGTON, DC --The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation early Friday that provides $350 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in Fiscal Year 2015. The measure passed by a vote of 321-87.
The Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies (CJS) FY 2015 Appropriations bill would cut current funding by $15 million but is $50 million more than the House voted to allocate last year.
The bill passed at 1:15 a.m. after lawmakers turned back two proposed amendments, one to restore funding to the current level of $365 million, and another to eliminate funding altogether.
Rep. Steve Cohen’s (D-Tenn.) amendment--co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)--to increase LSC’s funding by $15 million failed by a vote of 173-238.
Rep. Austin Scott’s (R-Ga.) amendment to eliminate funding for LSC failed by a vote of 116-290.
This is Scott’s third attempt to defund LSC. His amendment received 171 votes in 2011 and 122 votes in 2012. (The CJS appropriations bill did not go to the House floor for a vote in 2013.)
Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Ranking Member Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) spoke in favor of the bill. Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), and Cohen also took to the floor in support of LSC.
“I want to thank Chairman Wolf and Ranking Member Fattah for their continuing leadership on this issue,” said LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi. "This is an important first step in the appropriation process, and we look forward to Senate deliberations next week."
The Senate will mark up the FY 2015 CJS Appropriations bill in subcommittee on Tuesday and in full committee on Thursday.
The vast majority of LSC’s funding is used to support local nonprofit organizations via grants for the delivery of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.
Watch the video of U.S. Rep. Congresswoman Kathy Castor (FL-14) supporting LSC during the floor debate.