The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals told Senate Republicans late last week that it would go through with a conference in Hawaii later this month, despite GOP complaints that the conference could cost $1 million or more at a time of fiscal crisis.
In an Aug. 3 letter to Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsBannon encouraged Sessions to run for president before meeting Trump: report Sanders: 'What do the Russians have on Mr. Trump?' Poll: Trump controversies make him more popular among supporters MORE (R-Ala.) and Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Friends, foes spar in fight on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing MORE (R-Iowa), Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said it would cost too much to cancel at this point. However, he said the Ninth Circuit would try to be more cost-conscious going forward.
"In hindsight, had we foreseen the nation's current fiscal problems, we may have chosen a different site for this year's conference," he added.
In addition to the letter, Kozinski attached the resort contract for the Hawaii conference later this month that Sessions and Grassley requested. GOP staff on the Budget Committee said the information it has seen so far shows the Ninth Circuit could have been pared back in May, when they started asking questions about it, with minimal charges.
Staff also noted that the Ninth Circuit could have taken steps such as reserving rooms with a resort view rather than an ocean view, and taken more modest rooms. Rooms reserved range from $650 a day to $1,500 a day.
In addition, they said that while the conference schedule runs from Aug. 13-16, rooms are reserved from Aug. 10-17, in part to accommodate a golf tournament before the formal conference starts. Sessions and Grassley have said paring back the conference in these ways would still advance the goal of improving the circuit, although Kozinski did not offer to take these sorts of steps.
"We continue to believe in the importance of the conference in furthering the equation of the bench and bar, and in advancing circuit governance," he wrote.
GOP staff said they have not finished reviewing the contract, but said they still want to assess whether the Ninth Circuit has a long-term agreement with Hyatt Resorts Hawaii, and how the complimentary rooms that came with the package are used by conference planners.