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Rep. Simpson Pushes Back Against EAJA

WASHINGTON— Last week, the House Committee on Appropriations voted to advance the Fiscal Year 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson – Chairman of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee – authored language that pushes back against the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). 

“I have been a strong advocate for EAJA reform to prevent special interest groups from wrongfully taking advantage of the EAJA program,” said Rep. Simpson. “Frivolous lawsuits, like environmental groups alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act, require time and funding from federal agencies that could go towards more critical priorities.” 

“It’s wrong that these groups are creating excessive backlogs and robbing many Idahoans of a timely trial. Access to the courts, legal representation, and justice are core American values that I wholeheartedly believe in. This bill shines a light on the EAJA process, requiring detailed reports on the amount of program funds used, the names of the fee recipients, and the hourly rates of attorneys and expert witnesses stated in the applications awarded. The public has a right to know where taxpayer dollars are going.” 

Rep. Simpson has continued to push for EAJA reform throughout his time in Congress by cosponsoring legislation restricting EAJA reimbursements to parties with a direct and personal interest in an adjudication. Additionally, Rep. Simpson has included language in previous appropriations bills directing the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Forest Service to make legal fees paid to litigants under EAJA publicly available. 

Rep. Simpson’s report language addresses litigation costs funded with agency discretionary appropriations and settlements funded through the Judgment Fund. The language also directs the Department of the Interior, EPA, and Forest Service to provide the Appropriations Committee with detailed information regarding EAJA payments and to make that information publicly available. This language is part of the Fiscal Year 2024 funding package for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Related Agencies.   

This funding package will advance to the full House of Representatives for consideration.