Chairman Quigley Statement at Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Judiciary Hearing

2022-05-12 11:18

Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL), Chair of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Judiciary.

This morning we welcome the Honorable Roslynn R. Mauskopf, the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and the Honorable Judge Amy St. Eve, Chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Budget, to testify on the Judiciary’s fiscal year 2023 budget. 

It is nice to welcome you both for your first in-person hearing before this subcommittee. In fact, this is the first in-person hearing we have had in more than two years, and we’re excited to gather today to discuss the Judiciary’s budget request.  

To begin, I know that the vast majority of Americans are concerned over the leaked Supreme Court draft decision that would take away women’s reproductive rights. The repercussions of this extreme decision would be disastrous for women’s health and our entire country. Let me be clear: abortion is health care, and a civil right. However, I want to remind my colleagues that today’s witnesses represent the lower courts and not the Supreme Court, which sets its own operational and investigatory policies.

From my years in the courtroom, I truly believe a well-functioning Federal court system is a key pillar of our democracy and is fundamental to ensuring that the Constitutional rights of all Americans are protected. 

That is why I’ve worked with my colleagues to pass the Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act and to introduce the 21st Century Courts Act. These bills will ensure more oversight and integrity into the judicial process—particularly on misconduct issues. 

Greater public access to the Federal courts also increases accountability in the judicial system and builds faith in our Democracy. 

I am pleased that the Judicial Conference, under the CARES Act, expanded their access policies to including livestreaming audio in circuit courts and in selected civil proceedings, as well as livestreaming video for some criminal proceedings. 

These are all steps in the right direction.  

However, I’m concerned that these measures might be seen as temporary fixes to continue Judicial operations during the pandemic.  

I would encourage the Judicial Conference to explore the benefits of permanently expanding its livestreaming practices. Creating more ways for the American people to view and understand our democracy in action is critical to its success.  

Moving on, we know that the Federal court system cannot properly function without the support of this Committee. 

We appreciate the submission of your fiscal year 2023 request totaling $8.6 billion, an increase of $655 million over the 2022 enacted level.  

I strongly believe that sufficient funds for our judicial system should not be a partisan issue, and I will advocate for highest possible funding to support the Judiciary’s priorities. 

In addition to this request, the Committee notes the Judiciary’s physical security, cybersecurity, and IT modernization request of $516 million. I know this was not sent to us lightly and is the culmination of a coordinated analysis to evaluate the Judiciary’s critical IT security risks, vulnerabilities, and aging systems. I look forward to hearing more about this request.  

On the topic of safety, I’m interested in hearing about the return-to-office guidance from the Judiciary’s COVID-19 Task Force. The Judiciary’s transition back is more complicated than many other Federal agencies since it must accommodate jurors and courthouse visitors in addition to staff. 

Equally important, we hope you share updates on the progress made to create a safer and respectful workplace for all Judiciary employees.  I’m interested in learning about changes to the Judiciary’s Code of Conduct and workplace conduct policies, as well as any progress on the Judiciary’s climate survey. 

Once again, thank you for joining us this morning, and I look forward to working with you both. 

117th Congress