Grassley Wants Judiciary to Detail Fiscal-Cliff Spending Cuts, Derides 'Chicken Little Mentality'


U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley.
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U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, isn’t letting go of Maui.

The senator had criticized the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for holding its annual conference in Maui, and now he’s citing the trip as an example of travel spending that could be cut in the event significant budget cuts are forced by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

In a letter (PDF), Grassley tells the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts that he would like to see a more comprehensive plan for budget cuts, according to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times. The Administrative Office had previously warned the cuts would force the federal judiciary to cut 8.2 percent of its costs, with devastating consequences.

“There is no question that the funding reductions would be difficult to absorb,” Grassley wrote. “However, I find it surprising that while the A.O. has been quick to outline the number of employees who would be either involuntarily separated or furloughed, other operational expenses are not mentioned.”

In a separate statement cited by The BLT, Grassley said the judiciary’s emphasis on “draconian measures” without a comprehensive plan to avoid disruptions evidences “a Chicken Little mentality.”

Grassley’s letter gave examples of his travel budget concerns, including the $1 million Maui conference and a $25,000 “spa weekend” for employees of the Federal Public Defender’s Office in the Eastern District of California. “If spending on items of this nature were curtailed, the savings could go a long way towards filling the funding shortfalls your office identified,” Grassley wrote.

Courts spokesman Charles Hall told The BLT that the U.S. Judicial Conference is working through budgets to prepare for the cuts.

Previous coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Federal Judiciary Faces ‘Fiscal Cliff’ if Budget Act Is Not Adjusted, Says Editorial”

ABAJournal.com: “US Budget Impasse Could Eliminate All Federal Civil Jury Trials, Judicial Conference Leader Says”

ABAJournal.com: “Court Closings Announced; Illinois US District Courts Weigh Weekly Shutdowns”

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