Durbin, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Shore Up Funding For Crime Victims Fund

The bipartisan legislative fix would divert surplus funds collected through the False Claims Act to the Crime Victims Fund, which provides critical support for survivors of crime and their families

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today introduced a bill to shore up funding for the Crime Victims Fund (CVF), which supports state victim compensation and assistance programs. The proposal would divert surplus 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 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 Durbin.

“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 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 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.

Durbin and Murkowski’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.

The House companion bill was introduced by U.S. Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO-02), along with Reps. Nathaniel Moran (R-TX-01), Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), Stephanie Bice (R-OK-05), and Jim Costa (D-CA-21).

The bill is supported by Alliance for HOPE International, Alliance for Safety and Justice, Californians for Safety and Justice, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, Covenant House International, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, Futures Without Violence, Jewish Women International, Joyful Heart Foundation, Just Solutions, Legal Momentum, Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, National Children’s Alliance, National Criminal Justice Association, National District Attorneys Association, National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Organization for Victim Advocacy, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, RAINN, VALOR, and YWCA USA.

Durbin and Murkowski 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 Durbin’s 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.