Senator Murray Highlights Key Investments at DOJ Hearing to Build Safer Communities


ICYMI: Senator Murray Statement on the President’s Budget Request – MORE HERE

***WATCH: Senator Murray’s full remarks and questioning***

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, at a hearing with Attorney General Merrick Garland on the President’s FY24 budget request for the Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, discussed the importance of strengthening key investments across DOJ to help build safer communities as we seek to end gun violence, tackle the opioid crisis, prevent violent crimes, put a stop to increasing hate crimes, and more.

While discussing the importance of the Senate working to pass its appropriations bills in a timely and bipartisan way, Senator Murray emphasized that supporting the work of DOJ would be critical in order to keep our families safe and that an increase in defense spending alone would not address so many of the public safety challenges facing our nation today. 

“Keeping our families safe doesn’t just mean having a strong military—obviously, that’s important—but it also means having a fair, functioning system of justice and safe communities,” said Senator Murray. “We can’t keep our families safe from threats like drug trafficking that is bringing deadly fentanyl into our communities, or white supremacy and the uptick in hate crimes without investing in effective law enforcement.”

At Tuesday’s hearing, Senator Murray also touched on the importance of providing the resources necessary to enact existing gun safety laws while making clear that stronger federal gun safety laws are badly needed—remarking on a mass shooting that took place just yesterday at a Nashville school leaving six dead, including three children. Murray also went on to express the importance of supporting DOJ’s efforts to implement the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization passed in 2022. Senator Murray helped author and pass the original Violence Against Women Act in 1994 and led the fight in Congress to expand its protections to women on Tribal lands.

“And as we saw yesterday with the devastating school shooting in Nashville, it’s all too clear: we have to do much more to protect kids, families, and communities from gun violence. That will require us to do much more to strengthen our laws—and it also requires the resources we need to carry out the laws we already have on the books and keep guns away from violent criminals,” continued Senator Murray. “And you know we have made some progress to support state red flag laws to protect survivors of domestic abuse—we have to do much better for women, and that includes in indigenous communities where so many violent crimes against women have gone unsolved.”

Murray went on to ask Attorney General Garland how the President’s budget would support the work of the Office of Violence Against Women, specifically touching on implementation of the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act (SASCA), which Murray authored and passed into law as part of the 2022 VAWA reauthorization.

“I was glad to see an increase in funding for the Office of Violence Against Women.  I have long advocated for improvements in VAWA grants, including the Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction, so indigenous women and children survivors can seek justice in court,” began Senator Murray. “I also authored—and got signed into law—legislation to make sure survivors of sexual assault can get medical exams they need to be able to seek justice. So I want to ask you today: can you walk me through what your proposed budget does for investments in these critical areas?”

Senator Murray, who helped pass and negotiate a bipartisan mental health and substance use disorder package last December and who has been an outspoken voice in calling on her colleagues to address the opioid crisis, went on to ask Attorney General Garland how the President’s budget would help address the threat of fentanyl in particular.

“We all want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can with the opioids crisis. We need to have a strong budget capability to invest in these programs—they are a critical part of dealing with this crisis.”