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U.S. Courts Could Operate for Two Weeks in Government Shutdown

Sept. 28, 2021, 6:54 PM

The federal judiciary could keep running for two weeks in the event that Congress does not come to an agreement on a continuing resolution to keep the U.S. government running by Oct. 1.

If there isn’t an agreement in Congress, “the judiciary will not shut down and judicial employees will report to work on Friday,” U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan, said on a call with reporters following a meeting of the judiciary’s policymaking body, the Judicial Conference.

As the fiscal year comes to a close on Sept. 30 at midnight, keeping the federal government operating hinges on whether lawmakers can come to an agreement on a continuing resolution. For many executive agencies, that means certain operations will cease and workers will be furloughed.

Federal courts, however, have kept operating in the past and plan to do the same if another shutdown happens.

The judiciary estimates federal courts can continue operating until Oct. 15 using sources that aren’t tied to a new congressional appropriation, including “filing fees and previously enacted ‘no-year’ appropriations,” Charles Hall, a spokesman with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said in an email.

During the last government shutdown, which lasted for 35 days at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, the judiciary’s funds came close to running out.

In its 2019 annual report, the judiciary reported it “exhausted nearly all available resources and was poised for an orderly shutdown of operations” after more than a month without new appropriations. During that time period, the courts put some projects on hold and redistributed funds but were able to pay its estimated 30,000 employees.

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com

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