Senate Passes Appropriations Bill, Including Removing LSC Restrictions

The Senate finally passed the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill for FY2010, which includes funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Importantly, it removes some flawed speech restrictions on grant recipients' non federal funds. Passage of the measure came after a 60-39 vote to cut off debate on the measure and successfully excluding the consideration of all non-germane amendments. This included the controversial amendment sponsored by Senator David Vitter (R-LA), that would have required the Census Bureau to ask about citizenship and immigration status during the upcoming 2010 census. Critics said Vitter's amendment would discourage immigrants from participating in the census and would be extremely expensive.

The bill now goes to a conference committee to be reconciled with the House's version. The House CJS bill passed in June, and only removes the restriction on LSC grantees seeking attorneys' fees. The Senate named conferees, which include the members of the Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee and appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and ranking member Thad Cochran (R-MS). Conferees should be encouraged to support including the Senate language in the final legislation that removes the non-federal funds restrictions on LSC grantees. For more information, click here or visit the Brennan Center for Justice.

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