Grassley tells federal courts to cut conference spending before jobs

On Thursday, Grassley sent a letter to Judge Thomas Hogan, the director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, which is the operating body of the federal court system, demanding a comprehensive plan to cut spending.

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Grassley said he became concerned after reading an email alerting him to the drastic measures the governing body of the federal court system would take were sequestration — automatic across-the-board cuts to both defense and domestic spending set into motion by a deadlocked Congress — to occur in January. He said the email lacked any reference to actions the courts should already be taking to limit unnecessary spending, such as limiting conferences expenses and travel. Grassley said he’s concerned that courts would lay off employees, end juror compensation and reduce courthouse security.

“The entire federal government is going to be absorbing some difficult cost saving measures,” Grassley said. “But, it’s disappointing that the federal judiciary outlined draconian measures in a vague email instead of providing a comprehensive plan. It seems to present a Chicken Little mentality without much effort and forethought into avoiding major disruptions. The last thing we want is for people to be laid off or justice to be delayed.”

Grassley said he’s been fighting spending on non-case-related travel for years. He mentioned a recent Ninth Circuit Court conference in Maui, Hawaii.

“Thus far, the spending documents I have seen do not appear to justify the travel expenses associated with several events sponsored by various components of the judiciary,” the letter stated. “For instance, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held a weeklong conference in Maui, Hawaii, costing taxpayers well over $1 million.”

Grassley said addressing this lavish spending on nonessential travel would “go a long way towards filling the funding shortfalls” caused by the automatic spending cuts.