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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Hutchison Encourages House to Pass Amber Alert

Aired March 13, 2003 - 14:03   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go right to Washington, a live news conference right now, Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, Dianne Feinstein. The subject is that Amber alert, a national Amber alert. A lot of talk about passage of a bill like that.
It happened in the Senate in September, a passage of a bill like that in the House in the wake of the Smart case. Let's listen to the senator.

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: ... Senator Feinstein and myself as the prime cosponsors and Senator Hatch, Senator Bennett here from Utah, other cosponsors, Senator Landrieu and Senator Fitzgerald, Senator Leahy, all are here today to urge the house to pass this legislation.

Certainly, we know that Amber alert has worked on -- 49 occasions since 1996, 49 abducted children have been recovered with the assistance of Amber alert, and sometimes we have found that just an Amber alert going out has caused the abductor to stop and give it up, because they know that when people are out there really looking for them, that they will be caught.

So we're saying that we want to have the bill passed quickly. The president has put into place an executive order that does much of what our legislation does, but our legislation does have a monetary component. We do double the funding for the Amber alert to try to help states set up Amber alerts, to have a really good communication system, a good education system, and that's why we want to have it passed right away.

And, of course, it becomes permanent when it becomes law rather than just an executive order. So we are asking the House to consider letting this bill go. It will go quickly and we can then begin to really set up the education efforts, set up the highway signs, the education of states to do the very best job so that when a child is abducted -- and if a child is abducted in the next week, we want that child to have the best possible communication system that would help get that child within the first 24 hours.

The National Center for Missing Children says that if a child is not found within 24 hours, the chances of finding that child safe are very, very remote. Finding Elizabeth Smart just gave us all a great boost. I want to thank Ed and Lois Smart for their unwavering faith that their daughter would be found, for doing everything possible, for never giving up, and for reaching out to help other parents by supporting our Amber alert bill. I can't think of anything bigger than the love they are showing their daughter and the reaching out that they are doing to make sure that no parent faces this kind of test.

Senator Feinstein, the member of the Judiciary Committee who is my cosponsor, has done an incredible job of pushing this bill. As you know, we passed it last session, but it died in the House. We are now ready to go again. We've passed it in the Senate through Senator Feinstein, Senator Hatch, and Senator Leahy's leadership on the committee, and the Senate has spoken on this issue, and we urge the House to do the same.

Let me introduce my cosponsor, Senator Feinstein.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, thanks very much.

O'BRIEN: With that, we will dip out of this. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, both indicating their support for a national Amber alert system. The Senate did, in fact, pass such legislation in September. It's been bogged down in the House of Representatives, attached to another bill which has a lot of controversy in it.

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