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(Washington, D.C.) - Today, Congressman Brian Baird (WA-03) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced identical legislation in the House and Senate that is the first step to bringing a U.S. district courthouse to Vancouver, WA. The legislation will add Vancouver to the list of locations where court in the Western District of Washington can be held. Currently, court can only be held in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellingham.

"There is an overwhelming need in Southwest Washington to better accommodate the law enforcement and legal needs of our communities," said Congressman Baird, who has long championed the establishment of a federal courthouse in Vancouver. "This bill is a next step toward Vancouver acquiring a U.S. district courthouse to help the region more efficiently prosecute serious crimes and will be an integral part of our state's judicial system."

"This is a much needed step in bringing a federal law enforcement presence to the fastest growing region in our state," said Senator Murray. "While this will be a long process, I will continue to work toward the day when Vancouver residents no longer have to travel two to three hours to the closest federal courthouse. I am pleased to join Congressman Baird in working to improve the accessibility of our courts and the safety of Vancouver's residents."

Washington has U.S. district courts in both the western and eastern portions of the state. Western district court sessions are currently held in Seattle and Tacoma U.S. district courthouses, which are located 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours from Vancouver. A U.S. district courthouse in Vancouver would ease the heavy caseload of Seattle and Tacoma courts and would make it easier for southwest Washington residents and law enforcement personnel to access the federal legal system.

U.S. district courts are the trial courts of the federal court system. Within limits set by Congress and the Constitution, U.S. district courts have jurisdiction to hear nearly all categories of federal cases, including both civil and criminal matters.