Press Releases

Conyers Issues Committee Report on GOP Budget Proposals -- America On the Brink

Washington, DC, February 24, 2011

Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, issued a report, “America on the Brink,” detailing the impact of the GOP budget proposals as well as the impact of a possible government shutdown on justice and judiciary related areas.

“Rather than funding programs that will lead to job creation and help get our nation’s economy back on track, the House-passed continuing budget resolution will stifle job creation and hurt our most vulnerable and needy citizens,” said Conyers.  “We should focus our resources to facilitate our government’s ability to promote job growth, ensure that the provision of justice is not jeopardized, and protect public health and safety.”

Among other things, the Report concludes that if enacted into law, the recently enacted House Republican budget bill, H.R. 1, will:

  • force the federal court system to layoff 2,400 staff;
  • suspend payments to attorneys who represent indigent criminal defendants, including capital cases, thereby threatening the government’s constitutional obligation to provide such representation;
  • cuts nearly $850 million of Migration and Refugee Assistance funding, which is used to protect refugees overseas and to settle them in the U.S.;
  • harm public safety by severely hampering the ability of law enforcement officials to monitor multiple purchases of rifles and shotguns that are used in violent criminal activity along the southwest border
  • eliminate all funding for the National Drug Intelligence Center, which plays a major role in the fight against illegal drug proliferation both on the domestic and international fronts
  • cut funding to the Patent and Trademark Office by $400 million, which undermines the ability of that agency to stimulate the economy and create American jobs, according to the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

In terms of the likely impact of a government shutdown on justice and judiciary related issues, the report finds:

  • During the last government shutdown delays occurred in the processing of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives applications by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases reportedly was suspended; cancellation of the recruitment and testing of federal law enforcement officials reportedly occurred, including the hiring of 400 border patrol agents; and delinquent child-support cases were delayed.
  • During the last government shutdown, the processing of passports and visas effectively ceased, interrupting the flow of international commerce, except in cases of extreme emergencies.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may cease worksite enforcement actions, including I-9 audits and other efforts designed to check whether workers are authorized to work in the United States.
  • The DHS may terminate its administration of the E-Verify System, the electronic employment eligibility verification system that  more and more employers use to determine whether workers are authorized to work.
  • Customs and Border Patrol officers may no longer be able to inspect shipping containers of imported goods to collect duties or tariffs on such goods.
  • A government shutdown could actually cost taxpayers money.  According to a study conducted by Government Accountability Office in 1991, a three-day government shutdown in 1990 could have cost between $245 million and $607 million as a result of lost revenues and payment of salaries for work not performed.
  • The report was issued at a forum Conyers conducted today on the impact of recent Republican budget proposals in 2237 Rayburn Building.

Participants in the forum included:

  • Emily Stewart, Director of Public Policy, Planned Parenthood Federation of America;
  • Laura Murphy, Director, American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office;
  • Hilary Shelton, Washington Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy, NAACP;
  • Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, National Council of La Raza;
  • Travis Plunkett, Legislative Director, Consumer Federation of America;
  • Paul Helmke, President, Brady Campaign and Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence;
  • Damon Moglem, Director of Climate and Energy, Friends of the Earth;
  • Dan Hawkins, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Research Division, National Association of Community Health Centers;
  • David Rabin, MD, Research Professor in the Department of Family Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center:
  • Tara Andrews, Deputy Executive Director, Coalition for Juvenile Justice:
  • Don Murray, Senior Policy Advisor for Justice and Public Safety Legislative Affairs Department, National Association of Counties;
  • Don Saunders, Director of Civil Legal Services, National Legal Aid and Defender Association;
  • Pleasant S. Brodnax, Local Indigent Defense Panel Attorney;
  • Susan Krehbiel, Vice President for Protection and Programs, Lutheran Immigrant Refugee Services;
  • Kirsten Zewers, Government Relations Counsel, Intellectual Property Owners Association; and
  • Arley R. Johnson, Director of Government Relations, National Association for State Community Services Programs.