Shutdown Deadline for Federal Courts Extended

WASHINGTON (CN) – The federal courts system said Monday it will be able to run through Jan. 18 during the ongoing partial government shutdown, a week longer than initially anticipated.

As the shutdown began at the end of December, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said it would be able to fund court operations through Jan. 11 by using a pot of money that does not come from the regular appropriations process.

But the office acknowledged as the shutdown wore on that it was possible it would revise its deadline, depending on how quickly that pot of money emptied. The federal courts system began by delaying some of its expenses and “non-case related travel,” an Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts spokesman said last month. Now, the courts have enough money to operate for a week longer than initially thought.

Court employees are still being paid, according to a statement issued Monday, though the courts are delaying “non-mission critical expenses,” including the hiring of new employees and travel costs. The Justice Department has also requested delays in a number of cases involving the federal government in federal courts across the country as the agency grapples separately with the impacts of the ongoing shutdown.

Should the courts run out of money before Congress and the White House reach an agreement on a spending package and reopen the government, each court would need to “determine the staff necessary to support its mission critical work.”

The shutdown is now in its 17th day, as congressional leadership remains at an impasse with the White House over money for President Donald Trump’s long-promised wall along the southern border. Congressional negotiators and a team from the White House met over the weekend to discuss a possible resolution, but no deal appears imminent.

Trump has stuck firm to his demand that any bill to end the government shutdown include new money for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, while Democrats in Congress have so far refused to oblige. A package of spending bills the House approved last week would fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through Feb. 8, while funding the remaining government agencies hit by the shutdown through Sept. 30.

The Senate has not brought up either bill for consideration and the White House has promised to veto both. 

Trump is scheduled to make a primetime national address from the Oval Office on Tuesday evening and will visit the southern border later in the week.

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