The latest casualty in the federal government shutdown is the Amber Alert website, which went dark on Sunday.
"Due to the lapse in federal funding, this Office of Justice Programs (OJP) website is unavailable," a message on the site read Sunday. However, the program itself, which is a voluntary child abduction alert system for the country, is not shut down completely; the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children still has a list of current Amber Alerts nationwide.
According to the Huffington Post, a Department of Justice spokesperson said the website is merely offline as a safety precaution amid the government shutdown.
"All the sites that had to go offline were put behind a firewall so that they couldn't be hacked while the IT people were on furlough,” the spokesperson said.
Amber Alerts, which are issued and distributed by states, will still be sent out to the public by law enforcement agencies, but they will not be updated on amberalert.gov until the shutdown ends and furloughed employees return to work.
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Congress has been gridlocked in the midst of a government shutdown over President Barack Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act and the federal budget since Oct. 1. While there is no clear end in sight, many believe Congress will come together on a decision by the Oct. 17 debt-ceiling deadline.
“Our best guess is that a comprehensive agreement will be reached sometime close to the October 17 debt-ceiling deadline. That would mean at least another week of uncertainty, which will probably keep the U.S. equity market on the back foot,” Jessica Hinds, an economist with Capital Economics, said.
Amber Alerts, named in 1996 for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas, are issued for abductions that meet specific criteria within each state.