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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Rep. Barney Frank and the National Amber Alert System

Letter to the Editor

Representative Barney Frank engaged in petty partisan politics when he voted against the national Amber Alert system. Rep. Frank was the only Massachusetts Congressman to vote against the Amber Alert bill. In fairness, in several interviews Rep. Frank claimed that he actually supports the Amber Alert system but was unable to support “Republican add-ons” that were attached to the bill. For the record the objectionable bill would have prohibited “an individual from knowingly opening, maintaining, managing, controlling, renting, leasing, making available for use, or profiting from any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance, and for other purposes.”

H.R. 718, “the Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy (RAVE) Act” was the so-called Republican addition and indeed it was sponsored and co-sponsored by Republicans, Representatives Howard Coble (DE) and Lamar Smith (TX), respectively. However, the bill was not introduced into the House of Representatives until February 12, 2003 and it was a companion bill to S.226, the “Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act.”

Here is the rub, S.226 was introduced on January 28, 2003 and it was sponsored by Senator Joseph Biden, Jr. (D-DE). There were four co-sponsors: Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Gordon Smith (R-OR). Three of five endorsing Senators were Democrats.

Ultimately, the text of S.226 was included, in conference, as Section 608 of S.151, “The PROTECT Act.” This bill sought “to prevent child abduction and the sexual exploitation of children and for other purposes” and in doing so established the national Amber Alert System. It was sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and had nine co-sponsors: Senators Robert Bennett (R-UT), John Edwards (D-NC), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Michael DeWine (R-OH), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Charles Schumer (D-NY). Half of the supporting Senators were Democrats. This bill became public law number 108-21 on April 30, 2003 despite the objections of Rep Frank.

The so-called “Republican add-ons” were actually bi-partisan bills endorsed by well known Democrats. Rep. Frank’s excuse rings hollow and he chose to defend drug dealers while refusing to protect innocent children.


Brock N. CordeiroGraduate Student, UMass Boston15 Sagamore DriveDartmouth, MA 02748-1261Phone: 508-979-8930Fax: [email protected] [email protected]