Murkowski Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Shore Up Funding For Crime Victims Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation to shore up funding for the Crime Victims Fund (CVF), established by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which supports state victim compensation and assistance programs. The proposal would transfer remaining funds collected through the False Claims Act (FCA) that currently go to the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury to the CVF.

“The Crime Victims Fund plays a critical role in funding service organizations that address survivors’ immediate and long-term needs to help them get back on their feet,” said Senator Murkowski. “Victim service organizations are facing budget cuts due to decreasing deposits into the CVF – and we need to look at any and all solutions to make sure there are no gaps in services. I’m grateful for the opportunity to bolster the CVF with Senator Durbin to ensure that assistance is there for shelters, social services, and counseling for those in need.”

“The Crime Victims Fund is a lifeline for survivors and their families. The state programs supported by this fund provide a chance for victims to recover and rebuild their lives, whether it be through compensating the cost of medical and mental health expenses or providing access to emergency shelter. We have put forward a bipartisan legislative solution that will help to further strengthen the Crime Victims Fund, and I look forward to working with Senator Murkowski to get this bill signed into law, just as we did with the VOCA Fix bill in 2021,” said Senator Durbin.

“VOCA provides critical funding to victim service programs like Child Advocacy Centers (CACs), which coordinate the multi-disciplinary response to child abuse. Nine Alaska CACs depend on VOCA to sustain frontline service positions such as forensic interviewers, advocates, medical providers, and therapists,” said Mari Mukai, Executive Director of Alaska Children’s Alliance. “Cuts to VOCA would mean the loss of these essential positions, undermining the ability of CACs to hold offenders accountable and to help children access healing and justice. We commend Senator Murkowski's leadership on stabilizing VOCA so that CACs can continue to provide child victims of abuse and their families with the support they deserve.”

“This bill highlights the value Sen. Murkowski holds for survivors and we are extremely grateful,” said Brenda Stanfill, Executive Director of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. “The diversification of the monies coming into the Crime Victims Fund will ensure the continued support of services such as emergency shelter, legal assistance, child advocacy, and violent crime compensation. We appreciate the Senator’s commitment to funding these critical services for survivors.”

The Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) government funding bill set an obligation cap of $1.35 billion for the CVF, a $550 million decrease from FY23, which has substantially affected the provision of victim compensation and services funded by the CVF this year. The FY24 obligation cap is lower than years past because the CVF has had fewer overall deposits over the last several years.

Murkowski and Durbin’s solution would utilize surplus funds collected through the FCA. When FCA suits are substantiated, the responsible party can be liable for three times the government’s damages, plus a penalty. In many instances, whistleblowers bring these suits; when they are successful, the whistleblower receives a portion of the recovery to incentivize whistleblowing, and the defrauded agency typically receives a portion as well. The remainder goes into the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury. The proposed fix would only divert the remainder to the CVF and not impact amounts that go to whistleblowers or defrauded agencies.

Murkowski and Durbin continue to work to ensure that the CVF remains a well-funded lifeline of support for victims and their families. In 2021, President Biden signed VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act into law, which Murkowski cosponsored. The law has resulted in nearly $1 billion in additional deposits into the CVF, which was first established by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). However, despite the significant deposits since the enactment of the VOCA Fix, the delay in that law’s passage prevented millions of dollars in additional funds from being deposited into the CVF, which has played a role in the current shortfall.

Full text of the bill is available here.