Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that the law will help keep track of the half million convicted sex offenders in the United States, including 100,000 whose whereabouts are now unknown.
"By requiring national registration obligations, regular updates, frequent in-person verification, and providing tough and targeted criminal penalties, we intend to make one thing clear to sex offenders across this country -- you better register, and you better keep the information current, or you are going to jail," Sensenbrenner said.
The bill also authorizes the use of U.S. marshals to track down missing sex offenders.
The House passed the bill on a voice vote Tuesday. It was approved last week by the U.S. Senate, and U.S President George Bush is expected to sign the measure Thursday.