Jessica M. Karmasek Oct. 31, 2013, 2:15pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- A total of 17 Senate Republicans now have signed on to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley's proposed Court Efficiency Act.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming is the legislation's newest co-sponsor, added Wednesday. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the ranking Senate Republican overseeing education, labor and health, and energy appropriations, was added Tuesday.

This month, U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran, Mississippi; James Inhofe, Oklahoma; and Robert Portman, Ohio, also were added as co-sponsors of the bill. U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana, was added last month, along with Jeffrey Chiesa, the former New Jersey attorney general who filled the late Frank Lautenberg's Senate seat in June.

In June, U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt, Missouri, and Marco Rubio, Florida, added their names to the bill. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, Maine, added her name in May.

Also co-sponsoring the legislation: U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch, Utah; Jeff Sessions, Alabama; Lindsey Graham, South Carolina; John Cornyn, Texas; Mike Lee, Utah; Ted Cruz, Texas; and Jeff Flake, Arizona. All are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Court Efficiency Act, or Senate Bill 699, proposes to reduce the number of judgeships on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 11 to eight, but adds a seat to the Second and Eleventh circuits.

Grassley, ranking member of the judiciary committee, contends the legislation is an "efficient allocation of resources" and would save taxpayer dollars.

However, some have argued the GOP senator's proposed legislation is simply court packing -- something he has accused President Barack Obama of doing.

The bill was assigned to the judiciary committee in April. It hasn't moved since.

Earlier this week, a group of seven state attorneys general -- all Republicans -- urged the Senate to pass the legislation.

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