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Advocacy and Public Policy Update

In collaboration with CASA member partners, the National CASA Association advocates for CASA/GAL work with abused and neglected children by serving as a resource for Members of Congress and government officials, and using our expansive national influence to urge support of CASA Advocacy and partnering with other child welfare organizations. National CASA is also available to assist with government advocacy on the state and local level. Contact Cynthia Smith, Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer, for more information. 

FY 2016 Appropriations

UPDATE: The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of HR 2578 on June 16, and included funding for CASA at the full authorized level of $12 million. We are still analyzing the impact of a new Senate appropriations strategy, which funds the CASA program grants, as well as other victim-related discretionary grants, out of the Crime Victims Fund. Senate appropriations staff assert that this is a potentially more stable source of funding for the CASA program, and that the change allowed the boost in CASA program funding to the authorized level for the first time since FY 2011.

The Report of the Senate Committee on Appropriations explained:

While funding for the Department of Justice is one of the Federal

Government’s highest priorities, the Committee is concerned that

even in the midst of the current fiscal climate, the administration

has proposed new grant programs and initiatives that would further

stretch the Department’s spending. The Committee believes

that funding new initiatives will come at a cost to the Department

of Justice’s core functions, particularly when funding for existing

and effective grant programs is already in jeopardy.

This bill follows the Concurrent Budget Resolution for fiscal year

2016 by providing $2,602,000,000 through the Crime Victims Fund

[CVF], which is $241,000,000 above the fiscal year 2015 enacted

level and $1,602,000,000 above the request. The Committee notes

that this amount represents a 349-percent increase compared to

the fiscal year 2014 level, and is $70,000,000 above the

$2,532,000,000 3-year average of deposits in the CVF.

Given the significant increase in CVF spending and the Committee’s

concern for fiscal oversight, this bill uses $379,000,000 from

the CVF for victim-related discretionary grants in the Department

of Justice’s State and local accounts. The Committee has previously

avoided requests to fund victim-related discretionary grants out of

this fund due to the low caps on CVF spending in prior fiscal years.

However, current fiscal constraints, coupled with increased spending

out of the CVF, makes supporting important victim programs

with discretionary funding no longer tenable. As a result, overall

funding for these entire grant programs, which are widely supported

by many members of the Committee, remains close to the

fiscal year 2015 enacted levels.

The FY 2016 appropriations process in Congress is soon expected to come to a screeching halt over a dispute between Republicans and Democrats on spending limits for domestic programs. In a nutshell, Democrats are promising to prevent spending bills from coming to a vote on the Senate floor until the Republican majority in Congress agrees to loosen the purse strings. (For more background, search “sequestration 2015” online). We can anticipate that the dispute will push the process to September or even into the new fiscal year, as it has often in recent times when “continuing resolutions” to keep funding the government were necessary.

House Action

On the evening of June 3, the House passed the CJS spending bill, HR 2578, 242-183.

The House Appropriations Committee passed the CJS spending bill on May 19, without increasing the appropriation for CASA above the current $6 million level. The process was very partisan, and many programs had their funding cut or eliminated. Hill staff say the collaborative work of National CASA and the network helped our $6 million in funding stay in the House bill.


In collaboration with CASA member partners, National CASA is urging Congress to fully fund the FY 2016 appropriation to the Department of Justice for CASA at the authorized level of $12 million. Members of Congress from across the nation have supported full funding for CASA by including the appropriation in their programmatic requests for FY 2016 and/or signing the House Dear Colleague Letter to appropriators, led by Rep. Bass (D-CA), or the Senate DearColleague letter co-led by Senators Peters (D-MI) and Ayotte (R-NH). Members of Congress who signed the letters are listed here.

 

Congressional offices were alerted to opportunity to show their support for the restored appropriation through a combination of personal visits, emails and calls from state and local CASA/GAL programs and CASA supporters. More than 3,500 emails to Capitol Hill were generated through the new National CASA Advocacy Alert system!

The latest National CASA Alerts for Action on full federal funding for CASA for FY 2016 can be found here.

National CASA also submitted written Testimony to the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittees of both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, to urge for full funding as they conduct their budget hearings process.

 

The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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