Congress passed a bill that will authorize a new Justice Department program to repay student loans for law school graduates who become state or local prosecutors or federal, state or local public defenders and agree to serve in those posts for a minimum of three years.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., authorizes $25 million for the program for fiscal 2009, though advocates for the legislation said it’s unlikely that the appropriations committees would provide such funding by next year.

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