In this Memorandum we report on the status of tribal government access to the Crime Victims Fund for FYs 2018 and 2019 and the recent enactment of the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act of 2017 which provides tribal governments with access to funding for implementing and integrating alert systems regarding missing and abducted children.
Crime Victims Fund (Fund), FY 2018 Enacted. The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act provided the first ever direct tribal allocation under the Crime Victims Fund (Fund). The allocation is three percent, which for FY 2018, amounts to $133 million. The spending cap for the entire Fund in FY 2018 is $4.4 billion, an 80 percent increase over FY 2017, and an amount not expected for FY 2019.
The Fund comes from the collection of federal criminal fines, penalties and assessments, not taxpayer funds. It is not subject to the appropriations process except that in annual appropriations bills, Congress places a cap on how much of these monies will be distributed from the Fund. The Fund supports the Children’s Justice Act; U.S. Attorney’s victim/witness coordinators; FBI victim specialists; federal victim notification systems; discretionary grants from the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime; state compensation formula grants; State victim assistance formula grants; and an Antiterrorism Emergency Reserve. We have written about the Crime Victims Fund developments in our General Memoranda 15-050 of July 10, 2015; 16-053 of August 19, 2016; and 17-053 of November 6, 2017.
Multi-Year Authorization Still Pending. The tribal three percent allocation in the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act applies only to this one fiscal year. Ultimately, the underlying law will need to be amended in order to provide a permanent tribal allocation. In the current Congress there is legislation pending in the House (HR 4608, Rep. O’Halleran (D-AZ)) and Senate (S 1870, Sen. Hoeven (D-ND)) which would provide a five percent tribal allocation for 10 years.
Tribal Consultation. The Department of Justice has scheduled tribal consultation teleconference calls on June 12 and 14, 2018, to discuss administration of the tribal monies made available from the Fund for FY 2018. The teleconference sessions will take place on:
• June 12 at: 1:00-2:30 p.m., ET
• June 12 at: 3:00-4:00 p.m., ET
• June 14 at: 2:00-3:30 p.m., ET
Online registration is required to participate. The announcement with detailed registration and call-in information is here:
Crime Victims Fund, FY 2019 Pending. The House Appropriations Committee has approved its FY 2019 appropriations bill which funds the Department of Justice (the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill) and it includes a five percent tribal allocation. The cap for the Fund is set in the bill at $2.6 billion. Five percent of that is $130 million, roughly the same amount of tribal funding as in FY 2018. (The Administration had requested a $2.3 billion cap). The tribal five percent allocation was added in Committee markup by Representatives McCollum (D-MN) and Cole (R-OK), co-chairs of the House Native American Caucus.
We are hopeful that the Senate Appropriations Committee will also include a five percent tribal allocation in its FY 2019 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill (the markup of which is scheduled for the week of June 11). We encourage you to write your Senators in support of the tribal allocation from the Crime Victims Fund.
AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act. On April 13, 2018, President Trump signed the Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act as PL 115-166. The Act, sponsored by Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Heitkamp (D-ND) allows tribes to access resources to develop and integrate their alert systems for missing and abducted children into surrounding state and regional systems. Prior to this, the Department of Justice operated a pilot program for tribes regarding AMBER Alert training services. The Act contains authority for Department of Justice to waive matching requirements for tribes in some instances and requires a report on tribal capacities and needs to implement AMBER Alert systems.
The impetus for the bill was the delay in reporting the abduction of 11-year old Ashlynne Mike of the Navajo Nation, and who was later found murdered.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information about the matters in this Memorandum.