Ashanti Alert Act passes U.S. House, heads to President Trump’s desk

Posted at 3:40 PM, Dec 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-20 15:48:18-05

WASHINGTON – The Ashanti Alert Act has passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D) praised the legislation’s final passage in Congress Thursday.

“In the wake of an unspeakable tragedy, Meltony and Brandy Billie did something extraordinary: they channeled grief into a determination that other families would be spared the anguish of losing a loved one like they did Ashanti. Though no one can ever erase their pain, I hope it comforts them now to know that Ashanti’s death will not have been in vain,” said Warner. “Ashanti’s memory will carry on in the lives that will be saved through this new alert system.”

The bill will now head to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. It passed the U.S. Senate in early December.

Meltony Billie, Ashanti’s father, thanked the politicians and the Hampton Roads community who helped their family get through the tough time after his daughter’s death.

“If you knew Ashanti, then you knew that you had a friend. I have said often that she never met a stranger. Though it has been hard coping with her leaving me, her earthly father, I have great joy knowing that she is with her heavenly Father and one day we will see one another again. I am eternally grateful for her life—a life well lived—because through the Ashanti Alert Act lives will be saved,” Meltony said. “I thank my family for carrying me when I began to weaken, I want to thank Michael Muhammad, Kimberly Wimbish, Attorney Don Scott, Delegate Jay Jones and his team, Congressman Scott Taylor and his team, Senator Mark Warner and his team, and I dare not forget about the Hampton Roads Community, and everyone who has being praying for my family.”

Similarly, Ashanti’s mother Brandy described the legislation as being “a beacon of hope for those that have a loved one deemed as missing under questionable circumstances.”

“We are elated that this legislation has been enacted. Just because my daughter’s life was tragically cut short, that doesn’t mean that my time as a mother, her mother is over; far from it. This federal legislation, the Ashanti Alert Act, is the first step in my current journey without my daughter by my side,” Brandy said.

Kimberly Wimbish, a spokesperson for Ashanti Billie’s family, announced in early November that U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) would officially introduce the act to the Senate.

In September, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to make the Ashanti Alert a federal law. The vote marked one year since then-U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach) got involved in the Ashanti Billie case and announced his plans to push for a vote to take the alert national.

In a tweet, Taylor expressed pride in the legislation’s passing through the House, saying “lives will be saved around the country:”

The Ashanti Alert was signed into Virginia law in June in honor of Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old who was abducted from her job at JEB Little Creek in 2017.

At the time, Billie was too old to be considered for an AMBER Alert, which is designed for abducted children, and too young for a Silver Alert, which is for senior adults.

Billie was found dead near a church in Charlotte, North Carolina, around two weeks after her disappearance.

After the House’s vote in September, Ashanti’s family says the Ashanti Alert will not only be a way to remember their daughter, but also a way to keep her greatest passion in life alive: helping others.

“It will be like a hug from her. Every alert will be a hug: ‘Hey Mom, I’m here. I’m helping people, Daddy, I’m here; I’m helping someone else.’ It was her passion,” said Brandy Billie.

Click here for our full coverage on the disappearance of Ashanti Billie.