Senate unanimously passes bill to strengthen crime victims fund

Senate unanimously passes bill to strengthen crime victims fund
© Greg Nash

The Senate voted 100-0 on Tuesday to strengthen and provide a new revenue source for the Crime Victims Fund, which was established in 1984 and provides grants for victim services.

The bill already passed the House in March and now heads to President BidenJoe BidenPharma lobby eyes parliamentarian Demand for US workers reaches historic high Biden to award Medal of Honor to three soldiers who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan: report MORE's desk for a signature.

The legislation provides new money for the fund, which lawmakers have warned is running low, by allowing for revenues collected from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements to be deposited. The fund is currently supported by criminal penalties and forfeitures, among other revenue sources.

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"For nearly 35 years the Justice Department has operated a crime victims fund that uses money from federal convictions and fines to help survivors of violent crime. ... But today this popular and effective program is in danger of going into the red," Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerGillibrand slams committee leadership, Pentagon for military justice reform cuts Build Back Better Is bad for the states  Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda MORE (D-N.Y.) said ahead of the vote.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money — McConnell searches for debt deal votes GOP working to lock down votes on McConnell debt deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Debt limit maneuvers; Biden warns Putin MORE (Ky.) pointed to the bill as an example of the Senate being able to do "some bipartisan legislating."

“This fund needs to rest on firm financial footing. But right now, it doesn’t. Its balance has been shrinking fast. Congress needs to act to prevent big cuts to victims’ services, particularly in rural areas," McConnell added.

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) offered an amendment ahead of the Senate's vote to try to ensure that the money in the fund went toward victims, arguing that the current rules allow for it to be held back and used to circumvent spending caps under the budget rules.

"It was an abuse based on an arcane and ridiculous budget rule," Toomey said. 

Though the Senate rejected Toomey's change, the GOP senator still voted for the bill. 

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyVermont Lt. Gov. launches bid for US House Lawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' Biden signs four bills aimed at helping veterans MORE (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, argued that Toomey's amendment, by setting a minimum threshold for yearly spending of the fund, would tie the hands of the panel and "delay the movement of any Appropriations bill that the crime victims fund is a part of."