Victims' Rights Caucus

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Today, the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation introduced by Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congressman Chris Murphy (CT-5), H.R. 3695, the Help Find the Missing Act, also known as Billys Law. After holding a hearing last week on the missing persons legislation, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) cosponsored the bill and the Committee moved quickly to push Billys Law forward, in the direction of a vote by the full House.

Billys Law moved one step closer to becoming law today, said Poe. I want to thank Congressman Murphy for taking on this issue and the Smolinski family for not giving up on making a difference in the lives of millions of other families struggling to find their loved ones. I am committed to seeing that this bill gains the full support of Congress and to the Presidents desk as quickly as possible.

Billys Law, introduced by Poe and Murphy last year, empowers families and loved ones of the missing to find justice by helping to secure funding for the only federal missing persons and unidentified remains database that can be cross-searched, accessed and added to by the public - the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). This database enables the loved ones of the missing to spend countless hours searching for a match and add invaluable information to the case profile that only they know.

The legislation helps to streamline the reporting process for law enforcement and medical examiners by connecting two major federal missing persons and unidentified remains databases- the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the NamUs. Connecting these databases makes them more comprehensive and more likely to lead to a missing person or unidentified remains match.

Billys Law also creates an incentive grants program to coroners, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to help facilitate the reporting of missing persons and unidentified remains to the federal databases. Grants can also be used for training programs on how to correctly use the databases and best handle these cases.

Im thrilled to see this bill gaining steam in Congress, Murphy said. For families across the country whose loved ones have gone missing, the search for answers can be all-consuming. I hope that this bill will help provide closure for some of these families, and keep them from encountering unnecessary roadblocks in their searches.

This legislation is named after Billy Smolinski of Waterbury, Connecticut who went missing on August 24, 2004 at the age of 31. After hearing from Janice Smolinski about the nightmare her family endured, Billys Law was introduced to help ensure that more families do not encounter the systemic challenges the Smolinskis faced in the search to find their son.

The next step in the legislative process for Billys law is a full vote in the House. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (ID-CT).

Congressman Ted Poe serves on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security and is founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victims Rights Caucus advocating on behalf of victims in Washington, DC.

For more information on Congressman Poe and the Victims Rights Caucus, please visit our website: http://poe.house.gov