A week ago Thursday the United States House of Representatives gave initial approval to temporarily end attorney’s fee awards in successful suits against the Federal government. The Equal Access to Justice program allows individuals, small businesses, and non-profits, among others, to collect attorneys fees under certain circumstances when they prevail in their cases against the Federal government. Republicans, including the legislation’s sponsor Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), sought to impose a “six-month moratorium” in payments on the ground that the program needed to be audited to determine who has received the fees. House Democrats have countered by claiming that the program allows individuals with few resources to recover against the government. Other supporters of the measure have argued that plaintiff’s are not entitled to fees, even if they prevail, if the government’s position is “substantially justified.”
The amendment awaits approval by the full House before it can be voted on in the Senate.