Norton Amendment to Fund Law School Clinics to Address Backlog of VA Disability Claims Passes House

Jul 24, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced today that her amendment to provide $1 million for law school clinical programs to provide legal assistance to veterans, including filing and appealing claims for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, passed the House of Representatives yesterday. Norton’s amendment is now part of the House-passed fiscal year 2021 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Norton, who taught law as a tenured professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, cited the 400,000 veterans waiting for claims to be processed as the reason she offered her amendment.

“This is an important provision that will help the more than 400,000 veterans who are waiting for their disability claims to be processed by the VA,” Norton said. “There are already at least 22 law schools that have clinics devoted to veterans’ legal needs. There are many other law schools, such as the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, that are interested in starting their own VA-certified clinics. More law schools would likely be interested in assisting veterans once this bill is enacted. I was a tenured professor of law and continued to teach one seminar after being elected to Congress. I saw the expert assistance that clinical programs provide.”

This amendment has the same effect as Norton’s Veterans Legal Support Act of 2019 (H.R. 5019). Norton testified last week at the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs hearing on her bill that the bill would meet demand for legal services at little cost to the federal government. With the assistance of lawyers and law professors, law school clinical programs provide free legal assistance to veterans.