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                                                      Calendar No. 209
115th Congress      }                          {             Report
                                 SENATE
1st Session         }                          {               115-147
======================================================================



 
AMENDING THE PROTECT ACT TO MAKE INDIAN TRIBES ELIGIBLE FOR AMBER ALERT 
                                 GRANTS

                                _______
                                

               September 5, 2017.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

           Mr. Hoeven, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 772]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Indian Affairs, to which was referred the 
bill (S. 772) to amend the PROTECT ACT to make Indian tribes 
eligible for AMBER Alert grants, having considered the same, 
reports favorably thereon without amendment and recommends the 
bill do pass.\1\
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    \1\The PROTECT Act of 2003, Pub. L. No. 108-21, 117 Stat. 650 
(2003) (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. Sec. 5791c).
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                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of S. 772 is to amend the PROTECT Act of 2003, 
and add Indian tribes as eligible awardees for grant programs 
that help assemble AMBER Alert systems for law enforcement 
agencies. Doing so will broaden the scope of an AMBER Alert and 
increase the likelihood that issuing an AMBER Alert will result 
in the successful recovery of a child in danger. Where tribal 
communication systems may fall short, state and regional 
broadcasters will be able to fill the gap. This legislation, S. 
772, re-authorizes funding to update and install broadcast and 
media infrastructure for this purpose.

                               BACKGROUND

    The AMBER Alert Program was named in honor of 9-year-old 
Amber Hagerman who, in January 1996, was abducted in Arlington, 
Texas and later found murdered. The AMBER Alert System began to 
take shape at the state level, when broadcasters in the Dallas-
Fort Worth area partnered with local law enforcement to develop 
an early warning system to help rescue abducted children.
    Enacted on April 30, 2003,\2\ the PROTECT Act of 2003 was 
intended to address crimes of violence against children. As 
part of those efforts, the PROTECT Act created an AMBER Alert 
Coordinator within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).\3\ 
Currently, the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of 
Justice Programs (OJP) serves as the Coordinator, helping to 
eliminate geographic gaps in AMBER networks, provide regional 
AMBER network coordination, and provide guidance on criteria 
for issuing an AMBER Alert.
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    \2\Id.
    \3\Id. at Sec. 301(a).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The PROTECT Act also authorized $30 million in federal 
matching grants for states to update AMBER communications 
infrastructure and equipment, as well as provided educational 
and training opportunities.\4\ By 2005, all fifty states had 
operational AMBER Alert programs, and today the program 
operates across state and jurisdictional boundaries. As of 
February 2017, since its inception, the AMBER Alert Program has 
been responsible for the successful return of 868 children.\5\
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    \4\Id. at Sec. Sec. 303(h), 304(f).
    \5\The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 
available at http://www.missingkids.org/AMBER.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The PROTECT Act has not been re-authorized. Today the AMBER 
Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program funding is 
currently awarded through a competitive process from the 
Missing and Exploited Children (MEC) Programs account. Annual 
appropriations for MEC Programs have averaged approximately $67 
million since Fiscal Year 2013.\6\ The vast majority of MEC 
Program funding is distributed to the National Center for 
Missing and Exploited Children, and well as the Internet Crimes 
Against Children Program.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\Program Summary for Fiscal Year 2017, U.S. Department of 
Justice, Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention, MEC Program, 
available at https://ojp.gov/about/pdfs/OJJDP_ 
Missing%20and%20Exploited%20Children%20Prog%20Summary_For%20FY%2017% 
20PresBud.pdf.
    \7\Id.
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                   THE AMBER ALERT IN INDIAN COUNTRY

    In 2007, the OJP announced the ``AMBER Alert in Indian 
Country Initiative'' to establish and expand child recovery 
practices, capacity, and resources in tribal communities.\8\ 
AMBER Alert plans were developed in thirteen selected tribal 
communities.\9\ The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency 
Prevention (OJJDP) conducted assessments of capabilities at all 
sites, and provided a range of training and technical 
assistance to tribal law enforcement authorities.
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    \8\Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, $82.7 Million 
Provided to Tribal Communities for Law and Justice System Improvements 
(November 28, 2007), available at https://www.justice.gov/archive/opa/
pr/2007/November/07_ag_947.html.
    \9\ Memorandum, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice 
Programs, Amber Alert Reaches Indian Country, available at https://
ojp.gov/newsroom/pdfs/ambertribal.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A total of $5.4 million was awarded under this initiative 
from 2007-2010. The purpose of the program was to, among other 
things, provide direct training to tribal members and 
authorities, evaluate the geographic and infrastructure 
challenges at each pilot site, and investigate the possibility 
of partnering with neighboring states that had already deployed 
advanced AMBER Alert systems.
    Deficiencies in the AMBER Alert Program in Indian Country 
was highlighted in a recent high-profile child abduction case 
on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. On May 2, 2016, an eleven-
year-old Indian girl, was abducted on the Navajo Nation, along 
with her nine-year-old brother. While her brother escaped, she 
was found dead the next day. Her family members, and others in 
the community, contend that she would still be alive but for a 
delay in communications with off-reservation authorities who 
eventually issued the AMBER Alert.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    On March 29, 2017, Senator McCain introduced S. 772, a bill 
to amend the PROTECT Act of 2003 to make Indian tribes eligible 
for AMBER Alert grants. Senators Daines, Heitkamp, Tester, 
Udall, and Baldwin are co-sponsors.
    The Committee received input on S. 772 at a listening 
session held on May 10, 2017. The Committee held a duly-called 
business meeting on June 13, 2017 and ordered S. 772 to be 
reported favorably without amendment.
    Representative Noem and Representative Biggs have 
introduced identical versions of S. 772 in the House of 
Representatives (i.e. H.R. 3147, and H.R. 2666 respectively). 
Both bills have been referred to the House Committee on the 
Judiciary where they await further consideration.

                          SUMMARY OF THE BILL

    This legislation, S. 772, amends Section 304 of the PROTECT 
Act. The bill adds Indian tribes as possible awardees for grant 
programs that help assemble AMBER Alert systems for law 
enforcement agencies. It allows the tribal integration of state 
and regional AMBER Alert systems as an accepted use of funds. 
The bill provides the Attorney General with flexibility 
regarding increasing the federal share of the costs associated 
with activities allowed under the grant program.
    The bill requires the Attorney General to set standards for 
accountability and transparency in the grant application 
process. The bill, S. 772, also provides clarity and 
specificity to the program by clearly defining the term 
``Indian tribe.'' The AMBER Alert Program is re-authorized at 
$5 million, with another $5 million dedicated to developing new 
communication technologies and activities for enhancing tribal 
integration with state and regional AMBER Alert networks. 
Lastly, within one year of enactment, the Attorney General is 
required to report to Congress with a needs-based assessment of 
the challenges tribes encounter as it relates to these 
integration efforts.

        SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF BILL AS ORDERED REPORTED

Section 1. Short title

    This section sets forth the title of this bill as the 
``AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act of 2017''.

Sec. 2. Amber alert grants for Indian tribes

    This section amends Section 304 of the PROTECT Act of 
2003.\10\ It adds Indian tribes as eligible awardees for grant 
programs that help assemble AMBER Alert systems for law 
enforcement agencies. It also allows the tribal integration of 
state and regional AMBER Alert systems as an authorized use of 
funds awarded.
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    \10\Id., supra, note 1.
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    Section 2 provides the Attorney General with flexibility as 
it relates to increasing the federal share of costs associated 
with activities allowed under the grant program. The Attorney 
General is required to set standards for accountability and 
transparency in the grant application process. Lastly, this 
section provides clarity and specificity to the program by 
clearly defining the term ``Indian tribe.''
    The AMBER Alert Program is re-authorized at $5 million for 
Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) for both state and tribal AMBER Alert 
grants. Another $5 million is re-authorized for FY18 to promote 
states and tribes to develop new communication technologies, 
and enhance tribal integration with existing state and regional 
AMBER Alert networks. Both amounts will remain available until 
expended.

Sec. 3. Report to Congress

    Within one year of enactment, the Attorney General is 
required to report to Congress with a needs-based assessment of 
the challenges Indian tribes encounter as it relates to AMBER 
Alert network integration at the state and local level.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

                                                     July 21, 2017.
Hon. John Hoeven,
Chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 772, the AMBER Alert 
in Indian Country Act of 2017.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Janani 
Shankaran.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

    S. 772 would reauthorize the AMBER alert grant program and 
extend grant eligibility to Indian tribes. The AMBER alert 
program is a partnership among law enforcement agencies, 
transportation agencies, and communication providers to provide 
alerts on child abduction cases. Under current law, that 
funding is only available to states.
    The bill would authorize the appropriation of $10 million 
in 2018--$5 million for AMBER alert grants and an additional $5 
million for the Department of Justice to carry out activities 
related to integrating state, regional, and tribal 
communication plans and developing new technologies to improve 
AMBER alert communications. Assuming appropriation of the 
authorized amounts, CBO estimates that implementing the bill 
would cost $10 million over the 2018-2022 period. In previous 
years no funds have been appropriated for those efforts.
    Enacting S. 772 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO 
estimates that enacting S. 772 would not increase net direct 
spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    S. 772 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. Local 
and tribal governments could benefit from provisions in the 
bill that extend the program and make Indian tribes eligible 
for Department of Justice grants for AMBER alert services. Any 
costs to those governments, including matching contributions, 
would result from complying with conditions of assistance.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Janani Shankaran 
(for federal costs), and Rachel Austin (for intergovernmental 
mandates). The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, 
Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

               REGULATORY AND PAPERWORK IMPACT STATEMENT

    Paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate requires each report accompanying a bill to evaluate the 
regulatory and paperwork impact that would be incurred in 
carrying out the bill. The Committee believes that S. 772 will 
have minimal impact of regulatory or paperwork requirements.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The Committee received comments from the U.S. Department of 
Justice through Eileen M. Garry, the Acting Administrator for 
the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 
within the Office of Justice Programs. Ms. Garry appeared 
before the Committee at a listening session held on May 10, 
2017. In her comments, Ms. Garry expressed no opposition to S. 
772.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    In accordance with Committee Rules, subsection 12 of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate is waived.

                                 [all]