Even if the federal government begins a partial shutdown this weekend, the stream of federal money that pays for legal aid programs nationwide should not be immediately interrupted.
The largest source of money for civil legal aid, the non-profit Legal Services Corp., receives an annual appropriation from Congress that it distributes to 136 programs around the country. Unless Congress cuts its funding, as House Republicans have proposed, the agency will receive about $420 million this year.
Stephen Barr, a spokesman for the Legal Services Corp., said the most recent round of checks to local programs went out April 1, giving them a fresh injection of funds. And because the funding is slightly front-loaded toward the start of the calendar year, the programs should have enough funding to carry them through the end of May, he said.
“There’ll be no interruption in delivering legal services to low-income Americans, and grant oversight will continue here at the corporation,” Barr said.
That could change, he added, if a shutdown lasts for weeks. Barr said it’s too soon to say how a potential shutdown would affect the next round of funding, scheduled for May 1.