The House yesterday passed legislation to provide the first federal money to aid victims of violent crimes.
The bill was scaled down during two days of debate, however, reflecting strong opposition to the increase in federal spending for a program that many members of Congress said should be a state responsibility.
Under the legislation, which passed 192 to 173 and was sent of the Senate, the federal government would reimburse states for 25 per cent of the first $25,000 that they pay to victims of various violent crimes. Few states now have such programs.
"Like revenue sharing, it is a growth program," said Rep. Otis G. Pike (D-N.Y.), one of many who expressed skepticism that the costs of the program could be held within bounds.
But Rep. James R. Mann (D-S.C.), chairman of the judiciary subcommittee which wrote the bill, said the legislation not only recognized society's obligation to protect the innocent victim but also would lead to fewer upreported crimes since victims would be eligible for compensation.
Originally the bill would have paid 50 per cent of the first $50,000 of loss, but that was scaled back by amendments offered by Reps. Charles E. Wiggins (R-Calif.) and V. Lamar Gudger (D-N.C.).
The bill would cover payments for the victim's medical bills, loss of wages and other similar expenses.
However, the federal money could not be used for property loss, pair and suffering, costs that would be reimbursed from another source or administrative costs.
The total money authorized by the bill also was trimmed down, from $40 million in fiscal 1978, $50 million in 1979 and $60 million in 1980 and $25 million in 1978, $30 million in 1979 and $35 million in 1980.
Before receiving any of the money, states would have to pass laws allowing judges to order convicted criminal to compensate the victim. That was added to the bill on an amendment by Rep. Don Edwards (D-Calif.).
Also added to the bill was an amendment by Rep. M. Caldwell Butler (R-Va.) which would require anyone who contracted to write a book or article with a person convicted of a violent crime to place all the proceeds in an escrow fund for the victim.