Federal courts won't shut down Friday, even if government funding dries up

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Federal courts should be able to continue operations for about two weeks if Congress fails to pass a bill to extend government funding by midnight Thursday, when funding expires for most federal agencies.

U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan, the chair of the executive committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference, told reporters that the issue was discussed at a Tuesday meeting, Reuters reports.

“The judiciary will not shut down, and judicial employees will report to work on Friday,” she said after the meeting. “If we have a lapse in appropriations, we should be able to sustain operations for approximately two weeks.”

Federal courts are able to remain open for a brief period because they can tap filing fees and other funding sources not dependent on a congressional appropriation.

Charles Hall, a spokesperson for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said federal courts can keep operating until about Oct. 15, according to Reuters.

Reuters points out that during the last shutdown that ended in January 2019, federal courts at first estimated that they could continue operating for about three weeks. They stayed open past that time, however, by delaying new hires, cutting travel unrelated to cases and deferring some contracts.

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