Cold Case Bill Sails Through House

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Three Mississippi congressman voted Wednesday for a bill to establish a new division of federal prosecutors and FBI agents focused strictly on cracking unsolved murders from the civil rights era.

Congressmen Bennie Thompson, Chip Pickering, and Gene Taylor voted for the bill.

Cong. Roger Wicker was recorded as not voting. Wicker's spokesman, Kyle Steward, said the congressman placed a statement in the Congressional Record saying that he supports the bill.

The bill passed the House 422 to 2. A similar bill is working its way through the Senate.

The bill is named in honor of Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago who was beaten and murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman. His killers were never convicted.

The House version would authorize $10 million a year over the next decade to create a unit at the Justice Department to pursue cases that have sat cold for decades.

It also would earmark $2 million a year in grants for state and local law enforcement agencies to investigate cases where federal prosecution isn't practical.

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