DearColleague.us

Letter

Jim Costa

From the office of:

Jim Costa

Sending Office: Honorable Jim Costa
Sent By:
Alexa.Fox@mail.house.gov

Dear Colleague:

I invite you to join me in sending the attached letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey and Ranking Member Kay Granger, as well as House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Chairman José Serrano and
Ranking Member Robert Aderholt, urging them to ensure that the FY 2020 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) appropriations cap is no lower than $2.838 billion, which is the three-year average of recent Crime Victims Fund (CVF) deposits.   Further, we request that no
funds be used from the Fund for programs that are not authorized under the VOCA statute.

Since its enactment in 1984, VOCA has provided federal grants to provide essential, often life-saving services for crime victims through the CVF. The Crime Victims Fund is not financed by taxpayer dollars but by fines, forfeitures, and other penalties paid
by federal criminal offenders. By statute, the Fund is dedicated solely to supporting victim services. Because these non-tax dollars have already been collected and deposited into the Fund, obligations from the Fund do not add to the national deficit or debt.
 

As proposed, the President’s FY 2020 budget would result in a significant reduction in state VOCA victim assistance grants.  Setting the FY 2020 cap set at $2.838 billion without any non-VOCA authorized programs would enable state VOCA assistance programs
to maintain the level of services supported since Congress increased the annual cap in FY 15. Please join us in requesting that the VOCA FY 2020 cap is at least the three-year average Fund deposits of $2.838 billion used strictly for VOCA authorized programs.
  To sign onto this letter, please contact Michael Tiernan in my office (Michael.Tiernan@mail.house.gov or 5-3341) by COB on March 28. Thank you for your consideration.
 
Sincerely,

JIM COSTA
Member of Congress    

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Chairwoman
U.S. House Committee on Appropriations
H-307, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Kay Granger
Ranking Member
U.S. House Committee on Appropriations
1026 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

 

The Honorable José Serrano
Chairman
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,
Science, and Related Agencies
1016 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Robert Aderholt
Ranking Member 
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,
Science, and Related Agencies
1203 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairwoman Lowey, Ranking Member Granger, Chairman Serrano, and Ranking Member Aderholt:

We greatly appreciate your efforts to help crime victims by supporting the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) and Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) programs.  We write to request that the Crime Victims Fund cap for Fiscal Year 2020 be set at no less than no lower than $2.838
billion, the three-year average Fund deposits, which will sustain current levels of victim assistance services.  Further, we urge the Fund be used only for programs authorized under the VOCA statute.  

Under the recently released Administration spending proposal, it appears that state VOCA victim assistance grants in FY 2020 would be cut by at a significant amount. Although the exact amount of FY 2019 state VOCA assistance grants is not currently known,
we estimate that the Administration’s proposed FY 2020 funding for VOCA could result in a reduction of as much as 42 percent from the average amount of annual state grants since FY 2015, when Congress increased the annual cap. We urge you to reject the proposed
reductions which will greatly harm the quantity and quality of services being provided to victims of crime.

As you know, since 1984, the Victims of Crime Act has provided federal grants to provide essential, often life-saving services for crime victims. The Crime Victims Fund is not financed by taxpayer dollars but by fines, forfeitures, and other penalties paid
by federal criminal offenders. By statute, the Fund is dedicated solely to supporting victim services. Because these non-tax dollars have already been collected and deposited into the Fund, obligations from the Fund do not add to the national deficit or debt.
According to the Department of Justice, during FY 2017, state VOCA victim assistance grants provided vital, direct assistance that supports 9,422 victim service projects operated by 6,867 public and community-based agencies nationwide.

This included first-time services to more than 5 million crime victims, including victims of assault, murder, robbery, gang violence, intoxicated drivers, fraud, elder abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, sexual assault, stalking, and many
other crimes. Additionally, VOCA supports victim assistance for those involved in the federal criminal justice system, victims and survivors of mass violence and terrorist acts and helps victims with financial assistance for medical care, mental health counseling,
lost wages, and funeral and burial costs through VOCA victim compensation grants.

Further, we recognize that the rate of violent victimization is higher for American Indians than any other racial group.  In FY 2018 and FY2019, Congress set aside 3 percent and 5 percent respectively for tribal victim assistance grants and we request a
continuation of funding for tribes. We ask the Subcommittee to direct the Department of Justice to consult with tribal governments about how these funds should be allocated and to submit a report to Congress detailing how CVF funds will used in long-term planning
and the development of effective crime victim services infrastructure in tribal communities. 

We believe that the amounts in the Crime Victims Fund should be used solely for programs authorized under the VOCA statute.  We are concerned that since FY 2016, hundreds of millions of Fund dollars have been transferred to non-VOCA authorized programs.
This undermines the statute’s express requirements in VOCA, the Fund’s long-term viability, and Congress’s longstanding commitment to crime victims. We thus continue to support the subcommittee’s efforts to stop these transfers.

Again, we express our great appreciation to the subcommittee for its leadership and ongoing support for important services to crime victims throughout our nation.  Your consideration of our request will help ensure the long-term continuity of essential crime
victim assistance services.

Sincerely,

JIM COSTA
Member of Congress    

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