WASHINGTON – Lawmakers are moving toward putting the Amber Alert system in every state, with the House passing a measure Tuesday that would create a coordinated nationwide network.
The Senate has already passed a similar measure. Tuesday's 390-24 vote sets the stage for likely compromise negotiations to resolve differences between the two bills.
Seventeen states already have the Amber Alert system, which is credited with helping in the highly publicized rescues of several children this year.
Law enforcement agencies typically send the alerts to radio and television stations with descriptions of the missing children, their abductors and other information. They also are broadcast on electronic highway signs.
"It is a simple idea in concept but extremely effective in practice,'' said Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas. "While many communities across the country have the system in place, we want to make sure that every community does.''
During debate on the bill, Democrats complained that Republicans had attached a number of controversial provisions to the bill, including language that would allow judges to require lifetime supervision of sex offenders who have completed their sentences. Currently, there is a five-year limit on supervision.
The measure also includes provisions to expand the list of crime investigations that allow for government wiretaps and other surveillance. The Senate bill does not include those provisions.