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Federal courts’ cost-cutting extends funding another week

January 16, 2019

With the partial shutdown of the federal government the longest in history, the federal judiciary announced its cost-cutting measures have given it enough funding to remain in session at least until Jan. 25.

Previously, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts estimated that funding for the federal judiciary would be exhausted by Jan. 18.

The federal courts have continued to operate by using court fee balances and other “no-year” funds since the partial shutdown of the federal government began Dec. 22, 2018. “Aggressive efforts” by courts and federal public defender offices to cut non-critical expenses, such as delaying the hiring of new employees and not making non-case related trips, are largely credited with reducing expenditures to provide an additional week of funding.

Unless the government reopens, the judiciary will run out of money “at some point in the near future,” according to the Administrative Office. In that event, the courts would operate under the terms of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which permits mission-critical work. This includes activities to support the resolution of cases and related services. Each court would determine the staff necessary to support its mission-critical work.

The Case Management/Electronic Case files system remains in operation for the electronic filing of documents, as does PACER, which enables the public to read court documents.

With the shutdown in its fourth week, pressure on President Donald Trump mounted Wednesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on him to delay his State of the Union address scheduled for Jan. 29, and his own economists acknowledged the prolonged standoff was having a greater economic drag than previously thought.

The White House did not immediately respond to Pelosi’s high-stakes move on the 26th day of the shutdown, as Trump and Democrats are at an impasse over Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the Mexican border.

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