Washington, D.C. - Today, the Senate passed H.R. 1652, the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021, bipartisan and bicameral legislation introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that supports vital victim service programs by preventing future cuts to already diminished federal victim service grants. The bill passed the House on March 17, 2021 by a vote of 384-38 and today in the Senate by a vote of 100-0 led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Chairman Nadler and Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Chairwoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) issued the following joint statement after the Senate passage of H.R. 1652:
“We are grateful that our bill, the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act, was taken up by the Senate today and passed with overwhelming support. This critical piece of legislation will shore up the Crime Victims Fund, ensuring that programs and services assisting victims of crime are more effective, more reliably funded and more accessible to those who may depend upon them. Victims of crime and victim service providers can now rest assure that help is finally here. We now look forward to seeing the President sign this very important legislation into law.”
VOCA grants are the primary source of federal funding for thousands of victim service providers around the country, including programs serving victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, trafficking, and drunk driving. VOCA grants also fund victim compensation, including paying medical bills, covering lost wages, and paying for funeral costs. These critical grants are not taxpayer funded. Instead they are paid out of the Crime Victims Fund (CVF), which is funded, in turn, through federal criminal monetary penalties. Over the past several years, deposits into the CVF have dropped, leading to corresponding cuts in grants to victim service providers.
This bill would require DOJ to deposit all monetary penalties, including from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, into the CVF. This simple fix will prevent future funding cuts that jeopardize programs’ ability to serve their communities. In addition, the bill will:
- Bolster state victim compensation funds by increasing the federal grant calculation for funding to victim compensation programs from the current 60% to 75% of state-funded payouts;
- Allow states to request a no-cost extension from the Attorney General, as allowed for other Department of Justice formula grant programs, to ensure states can thoughtfully and effectively distribute victim service grants without being penalized;
- Require state VOCA Administrators to waive the 20% match requirement for victim service subgrantees for the pendency of the COVID-19 crisis and one additional year;
- Allow state VOCA Administrators to waive subgrantee match requirements at their discretion after the aforementioned waiver expires and require state VOCA Administrators to develop and publish a policy and procedure for obtaining a waiver;
- Instruct the Office for Victims of Crime not to deduct restitution payments recovered by state victim compensation funds when calculating victim compensation awards; and
- Provide flexibility for state compensation programs to waive the requirement to promote victim cooperation with law enforcement if good cause is established by the program.