The U.S. House of Representatives voted Saturday to cut the budget for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) by $70 million. According to an LSC press release, the cut would reduce grants to local legal aid programs by 18% and cause layoffs of 370 staff attorneys. Some offices in rural areas would be closed, and about 160,000 fewer low-income people would receive legal help.
Assistance provided by the 136 nonprofit programs nationally aids victims of domestic violence, prevents unlawful foreclosures and evictions, helps veterans and the disabled obtain benefits, protects the elderly from consumer fraud, and provides help with other civil legal problems. The programs provide legal services to persons at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines—$27,938 for a family of four. About 95% of LSC funding is distributed as grants to more than 900 offices across the nation.
An effort to eliminate all funding for LSC programs was defeated on February 16 , 259 to 171. Michigan representatives voting to eliminate funding: Amash (R), Benishek (R), Huizenga (R), McCotter (R), Miller (R), Rogers (R), Walberg (R). Michigan representatives voting against the amendment to eliminate LSC funding: Camp (R), Clarke (D), Conyers (D), Dingell (D), Kildee (D), Levin (D), Peters (D), Upton (R).
The House approved the funding reduction as part of its Continuing Resolution to fund federal agencies and programs through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011. The proposal would represent an $85 million reduction from the White House’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget request of $435 million. All Republican members of Michigan's House delegation voted on the bill to reduce funding. All Democratic members except Gary Peters, who abstained, voted against the bill. The bill now goes to the Senate for a vote. The government is currently funded at Fiscal Year 2010 levels until March 4.
Earlier this month, the policymaking ABA House of Delegates voted to oppose any funding cuts to LSC.