FY 2018 VOCA Funding

Congress has extended the continuing resolution through December 22, 2017. For VOCA, a full year spending bill must be enacted before FY 2018 grant amounts can be calculated or awarded.

The House Appropriations Committee is recommending a FY 2018 VOCA cap of $4.632 billion, an 80 percent increase over the FY 2017 VOCA cap. While the Committee is not recommending any transfers of Crime Victim Fund to programs not authorized under the VOCA statute, the Committee would allocate 5 percenet "for grants to Indian tribal governments to improve services and justice for victims of crime."

The Senate Appropriations Committee is recommending a FY 2018 VOCA cap of $3.636 billion, a 41 percent increase over the FY 2017 VOCA cap which would include 5 percent "to the Office for Victims of Crime for grants, consistent with the requirements of the Victims of Crime Act, to Indian tribes to improve services for victims of crime." The Senate bill would also transfer another $10 million to the Office of Inspector General for oversight and auditing purposes and $379 million to the Office on Violence Against Women.

The Administration released its FY 2018 budget proposals on May 23, 2017. The proposed budget contains some significant provisions affecting VOCA and the Crime Victims Fund. While these proposals may have a minimal immediate net impact on the amount of state VOCA assistance grants, the policies, if adopted, will likely have major long-term adverse implications for VOCA-funded victim services.

Some of the major Crime Victims Fund proposals are:

  • Permanent rescission (removal) of $1.31 billion from the Fund balance (“above the cap”). The Administration says the reason for this is "deficit reduction," even though the VOCA statute says unobligated Fund amounts "shall remain in the Fund for obligation in future years...".
  • Increase the cap from $2.573 billion to $3 billion, but that includes, among other things:
    • Continuation of $10 million for DOJ Inspector General (this would bring total OIG funding to $40 million)
    • Increase transfer for VAWA programs from $326 million to $445 million (93% of total OVW programs)
    • New 5% set aside for grants to tribes ($150 million)
    • Using the CVF for several OJP and OJJDP programs previously funded from general tax appropriations ($165 million)
    • 3% ($90 million) set aside for OJP research, evaluation and statistics (not previously authorized from CVF)

By permanently removing amounts retained in the Fund and raising the cap in order to fund non-VOCA programs, the request poses a serious challenge to the Fund’s long-term viability.  There are no assurances that Fund deposits will continue to sustain the current level of victim services thereby undermining Congress’s original intention of capping annual Fund obligations to ensure a stable source of funding for VOCA programs. By expanding the use of the Fund to support additional programs not authorized under the VOCA statute, it opens the door even further to use the Fund to pay for other programs; the more additional programs come to rely on the Fund, the less becomes available for state VOCA victim assistance programs.

Pending 2017 VOCA Legislation

On January 4, 2017, Reps. Scott Perry (R-PA04) and Brendan Boyle (D-PA13) introduced H.R. 275, the "Fairness for Crime Victims Act of 2017," which would require that the amount made available from the Crime Victims Fund be no less than average amount deposited into the Fund over the previous three fiscal years. The text of the bill is available here.

On February 2, 2017, Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX02) and Jim Costa (D-CA16) introduced H.R. 818, "To safeguard the Crime Victims Fund," which would require that that the Crime Victims Fund be used only for purposes authorized under the VOCA statute. See Rep. Ted Poe's Floor Remarks (including video).

In supporting these bills, NAVAA has requested that they be consolidated so that the annual 3-year average CVF cap be restricted to only those purposes authorized under the VOCA statute. NAVAA noted that recent proposals would simply transfer amounts out of the Fund for non-VOCA authorized purposes. In a January 18, 2017 letter to Reps. Perry and Boyle, NAVAA says that these "backdoor" carve outs violate the express statutory provision that the Fund be used only for VOCA authorized programs. "Allowing the Fund to be used for purposes not authorized under the VOCA statute creates a tempting opportunity to transform the Crime Victims Fund into a sizable revenue source for virtually any program."