President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday a bill to replenish a fund that serves victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other abuse, after the legislation passed the Senate Tuesday 100-0.

What You Need To Know

  • President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday a bill to replenish a fund that serves victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other abuse

  • The legislation passed the Senate 100-0 and was supported by a large bipartisan group of senators

  • The VOCA Fix Act redirects most fees from criminal prosecutions to the Crime Victims Fund, which is used to support thousands of state programs across the country

  • Biden called Tursday a "day of hope" and thanked victim services workers on the front lines, calling on Congress to also reuthorize the Violence Against Women Act

The VOCA Fix Act restores millions of dollars in funds first approved in the Victim of Crimes Act of 1984. It will add a new source of revenue to the fund and boost the amount of federal funding allowed to compensate state programs.

“Today, I think, is a day of hope,” Biden said. “A day of hope and healing for victims of crime and organizations that support those victims of crime.”

Organizations who rely on the Crime Victims Fund have seen major cuts in recent years, as much as 70% or more in some states. That’s led many of them to close or reduce services for survivors of crimes like child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. 

“Our providers are exhausted, they’re burned out, and now they’re faced with massive cuts,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on the Senate floor this week. “They are there for truly the most vulnerable at an exceptionally vulnerable moment in their lives.”

The cuts were mostly due to an increase in deferred prosecution or non-prosecutorial agreements in recent years. The fines and penalties from those cases did not go to the Crime Victims Fund as a typical prosecutorial fine would.

The bill President Biden signed Thursday redirects all fees to the fund and increases the amount state programs are reimbursed from 60% to 75%.

“This is one of those deals where what they did was literally, not figuratively, going to change the lives of women and children and some men out there,” he said after the signing.

The president was joined Thursday by Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, Acting Assistant Attorney General Amy Solomon from the Office of Justice Programs and Kristina Rose, Director of the Office for Victims of Crime. 

Also there were several bipartisan members of Congress, including Murkowski, plus the attorneys general from Maryland and Virginia.

On the Senate floor this week, Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill.,, who introduced the bill with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, outlined ways the funds are utilized, including “expenses like medical bills, counseling, funeral costs, and loss of wages.”

In his remarks Thursday, President Biden pointed to the bill’s unanimous passage in the Senate as evidence that lawmakers can do the same on similar efforts, urging them to reauthorize and fortify the Violence Against Women Act, which he himself first introduced in 1990.