Sensenbrenner fast-tracks Amber bill

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Fox's America's Most Wanted appears to have been instrumental in the
capture of Elizabeth Smart's alleged abductors and her safe return.

According to show host John Walsh, both couples who called in tips had seen
AMW's airing of the sketches of drifter Brian David Mitchell.

Walsh featured one couple, Anita and Alvin Dickerson, on his NBC Enterprises
syndicated talk show Thursday.

The pair spotted Mitchell, recognized him from the broadcast, called police,
then confronted Mitchell and remained with him until police arrived, according
to their account.

Walsh's show also featured Elizabeth's father, Ed Smart, who used the
platform to call on the House of Representatives -- and particularly Judiciary
Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) -- to pass an Amber Alert bill
"today."

Sensenbrenner had said earlier in the day that he would schedule a markup in two
weeks, according to Walsh, but that did not satisfy Smart, who said kids in
danger "don't have two weeks."

He blamed Sensenbrenner for delays in reconciling the House bill with one
that already passed the Senate.

The bill Smart wants would make the immediate alerting of TV and radio
stations about child abductions a national program.

Currently, 38 states and numerous localities have the alerts.

Sensenbrenner, feeling the heat, said Thursday that he would fast-track markup of
the bill to next week, but did not agree to separate the Amber portion from the
larger bill so that it could be passed more quickly (the larger bill contains a
mandatory minimum-sentencing provision that has proved a key sticking point).

He also said it was yet to be determined whether mandating a national program
was the right way to go, and that it was easier to pass the right bill the first
time than rush through the wrong one.

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