Washington (Dolan) — House lawmakers have tentatively approved a measure that would temporarily halt payments of attorney fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
The amendment, introduced by Rep. Cynthia Lummus, R-Wyo., would place a six-month moratorium on the payment of attorney fees under EAJA, which provides attorney fee awards of up to $125 per hour to prevailing parties in litigation against the government where the government’s position was not “substantially justified.”
Lawmakers are expected to vote on the full spending bill this week.
Lummus claimed that environmental groups have recovered $34 million, including attorney fees, by filing 1,200 lawsuits.
“How many environmental groups and actually paying for their organizations by repeatedly suing the federal government?” Lummus asked.
But Democrats and legal advocacy groups pushed back, saying the amendment punishes those least able to pay.
“The overwhelming majority of EAJA cases involve appeals related to the wrongful denial of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits and on average the fees awarded in such cases are very modest,” said National Senior Citizens Law Center spokesman Scott L. Parkin.