New Federal Courthouse Could Be Delayed

Posted at 6:45 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 19:45:42-05

Congress is working to pass a new federal budget, but the proposed new federal courthouse in Nashville might not make it to the final spending plan.

December 11 was the deadline for Congress to pass a new budget. But lawmakers could not come to terms on deal, so instead they passed a continuing resolution that will keep the government running until Wednesday.

U.S. Representative Jim Cooper has been championing Nashville's proposed courthouse for years. He said the current facility on Broadway is outdated.

"It wasn't designed for today's needs," Rep. Cooper said.

There are several safety concerns with courthouse that was built in 1952. The structure is too close to the street, and judges, jurors, and defendants all share the same hallways.

"Our judges are very stressed out, the jurors, everybody who uses the courthouse. We really need a new building," Rep. Cooper explained.

The federal government first identified the issues at the Nashville courthouse in 1988 and started the process of planning for a new facility. A series of delays, and a lack of funding, have kept the project from becoming a reality.

This year the courthouse made it farther into the process than every before. President Obama included the entire construction cost of the project in his budget. Tennessee Lamar Alexander was able to pass the full $181.5 million cost of the project in the Senate. The House has yet to approve the project.

A continuing resolution will now force lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to make a crucial decision about the Nashville project.

"Whether to make some policy changes, and add things like this courthouse, or just to say freeze government. I don't know what Congress will decide to do," the Congressman said.

The new courthouse would sit on property the federal government owns between Church Street and Commerce Street, and 7th Avenue North and Rose L. Parks Boulevard.

"It's a first class structure, and it will serve a real need. And it will help fill a hole in downtown Nashville," according to Rep. Cooper.

Congress should address the budget by the Wednesday deadline. It is possible they will enact another continuing resolution until Thursday.