Senate Budget Committee Approves Toomey Bill to Boost Funds for Crime Victims
WASHINGTON D.C. – The Senate Budget Committee today approved legislation, sponsored by Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), that would direct hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funds to victims of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and other crimes. The bill, S.1495 - Fairness for Crime Victims Act of 2015, ensures that money deposited into the Crime Victims Fund will go to crime victims, not to other discretionary spending. Each year, the Fairness for Victims of Crime Act will ensure that Congress disburses the average of the past three years’ deposits into the Fund. Senator Toomey’s legislation would increase funding for victims service groups nationwide fourfold versus 2014 levels.
“It's unusual when we are able to pass a major change to constrain our spending,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY). “But Senator Toomey has persevered and his provision, which the committee passed by voice vote, has moved us one step closer to truly supporting victims of crime. This will ensure these funds will be used to provide relief for victims of crimes, instead of being diverted to ‘other’ spending. His understanding of the budget process and his ability to convince senators by sharing the true impact this legislation would have on crime victims resulted in passage from the Senate Budget Committee.”
Enzi noted that the Crime Victims Fund is not funded with tax dollars and does not add to the national debt or deficit. Rather, it is financed by the fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders collected by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, federal U.S. courts, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Under federal law, monies deposited into the fund may only be used to assist crime victims for emergency shelter, crisis intervention, counseling and assistance in participating in the criminal justice system. For many years, Congress has limited spending from the fund to achieve budget savings.
“It is unconscionable that the government withholds billions of dollars from victims of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and other crimes," said Senator Toomey. "Federal law requires that the money from the Crime Victims Fund may be used only to serve victims of crime, not for other spending. Instead, the government has withheld billions of dollars from crime victims and used it for other spending projects. This injustice must end and today the Senate Budget Committee took the first step toward enactment of my bill and restoring fairness to crime victims.”
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