U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) lauded House Judiciary approval of the Government Litigation Savings Act. Authored by Lummis, the legislation strengthens the purposes of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) and prevents abuse through environmental lawsuits filed in protest of federal land management agency decisions.
Lummis released the following statement:
"The use of tax-payer dollars to fund the ever-growing list of procedural lawsuits must be put to a stop. The Government Litigation Savings Act is the best way forward to bring EAJA out of the shadows and into the bright light of transparency. I am pleased the House Committee on the Judiciary agrees. EAJA was never intended to support the work of multimillion dollar organizations with in-house litigation shops. Instead, it was supposed to help those with no litigation shop at all. Today's work by the Judiciary Committee on the GLSA upheld my goal to return EAJA to the original intent of Congress, strengthen legitimate users' access to EAJA reimbursement, and relieve the taxpayer from subsidizing repeated procedural lawsuits."
EAJA was passed as a permanent appropriation in 1980 in order to help individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations with limited access to financial resources defend themselves against harmful government actions. EAJA allows for the reimbursement of attorney's fees and costs associated with suing the federal government. When operating correctly, EAJA allows plaintiffs who sue the federal government to recover part of their attorney's fees and costs if they "prevail" in the case.
Congress and the agencies halted tracking and reporting of payments made through EAJA in 1995.
The Judiciary Committee amended the bill in the following ways:
· Expanded the eligibility requirement to ensure that all individuals, small businesses, veterans and social security claimants can file for EAJA reimbursement as long as they are underneath the statutory cap of a net worth of $7 million for organizations and $2 million for individuals.
· Responded to objections from the veteran's community by removing any restrictions on pro bono work.
· Increased the hourly cap on attorney's fees to $200 an hour (from $125 in current law), and requires an annual inflation adjustment.