Legislation approved that would grant LSC $600 million for legal aid

The Legal Services Corporation could get an additional $135 million in its pockets, the largest single increase in the legal aid organization’s history, following an approval of funding legislation by the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.

The committee on Thursday approved funding legislation that includes $600 million for LSC in 2022 – a 29% increase from its current appropriation.

Funds for the legal aid group were included in the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) 2022 bill that was approved earlier this week.

If the law is enacted, this would be the fourth time in recent years that LSC received a funding increase over the prior year, continuing a trend that began in 2018.

“This legislation provides a record high funding level of $600 million for the Legal Services Corporation in order to help greatly expand legal services for low-income Americans,” said CJS Chair Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pennsylvania.

A major chunk of the LSC funds— $557,400,000 — would be aimed towards Basic Field Grants. Those grants support the day-to-day operations of LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations around the country, including Indiana Legal Services.

In 2020, LSC was set to receive $465 million, the largest appropriation in actual dollars for the organization in its history at that time, after President Joe Biden signed a $2.3 trillion spending bill. The Biden Administration has also requested $600 million for LSC.

In 2021, LSC had asked for $652 million. However, LSC’s budget requests for 2022 totaled at $1.018 billion. That massive number, it says, comes in response to a surge in demand for civil legal services caused by COVID-19’s impact on low-income communities.

“We are grateful to the House Appropriations Committee for taking a critical first step in addressing the enormous gap between the life-impacting legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs,” said Ronald S. Flagg, LSC president. “This funding increase is particularly critical to address the surge in legal needs, such as unemployment claims, evictions, and incidents of domestic violence, arising from the pandemic.”

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