Will Congress Heed Trump’s Call To Nix Legal Aid Funder?

For the third year in a row, President Donald Trump’s annual budget calls for the elimination of the Legal Services Corp., but advocates for America’s largest single funder of legal aid services remain hopeful that lawmakers will again rebuff that recommendation.

News Story (NATIONAL)

RJ Vogt
March 24, 2019

Tags: Funding: Federal

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services Corporation (LSC)


The proposal comes despite the fact that Congress, which holds ultimate appropriation authority, has denied both of Trump’s previous attempts to can the LSC. Lawmakers have actually increased LSC funding each time the president recommended nixing the program that funds 132 legal aid programs, including many in states with few, if any, alternative providers.

LSC President Jim Sandman told Law360 he is “optimistic” that bipartisan support will continue to win the day on Capitol Hill.

“We meet regularly with members of Congress to keep them updated on what we’re doing and to make the case that LSC is a great investment of hard-earned taxpayer money,” Sandman said. “We have no difficulty in making that pitch.”

But according to White House documents posted online last week, LSC — to which Congress appropriated $415 million for the 2019 fiscal year — should be eliminated as part of the administration’s plans “to move the nation towards fiscal responsibility and to redefine the proper role of the federal government.” The bid is the most recent example of efforts to stymie the LSC, which have come up repeatedly over the past 40 years.