The federal judiciary has raised to three weeks its estimate of how long courts could maintain operations if Congress fails to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown, up from the two weeks it projected before a stopgap funding bill was passed in September
The new estimate was released by the judiciary’s administrative arm on Tuesday, after Republicans who control the U.S. House of Representatives met behind closed doors to discuss options on how to structure another stopgap measure to temporarily fund the government after current funding expires on Nov. 17.
Should there be a lapse in appropriations, the Judiciary will continue to monitor available funds,” a spokesperson for the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts said in a statement
The judiciary would be able to maintain operations temporarily during a government shutdown by relying on fees and other available balances should a lapse in congressionally authorized appropriations occur.That is a tactic it has deployed in other recent shutdowns, allowing the courts to avoid having to furlough or not pay their roughly 33,000 employees during three prior shutdowns in the last decade that lasted from three to 35 days.The courts were last forced to furlough employees during a shutdown between 1995 to 1996 that lasted 21 days during President Bill Clinton’s tenure.
Back in September, the Administrative Office had projected it could do that for at least two weeks, when the Republican-led House and Democratic-led Senate were struggling to pass spending legislation before a Sept. 30 deadline.
Congress narrowly averted a shutdown, when then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy backed down from an earlier demand by Republican hardliners for a partisan bill and passed a stopgap spending bill with Democratic support.
The move cost McCarthy his job, and New House Speaker Mike Johnson is facing a major test just two weeks into the job to get his party to coalesce around a government funding plan with just nine days to go.
Thanks to the prior brush with a potential shutdown, the judiciary has had more time to prepare.
In October, the Administrative Office advised courts and federal defender organizations to draft contingency plans and determine who would be furloughed and what staff would be required to keep working but without pay should funding dry up