- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2001

The House overwhelmingly passed a measure yesterday expanding the government's power to cut money flows to terrorist networks, but key senators said the bill should not have been stripped from President Bush's anti-terrorism package.
The vote for the bill, which is supported by the White House, was 412-1. It was adopted under a special rule requiring limited debate and a two-thirds vote as opposed to the customary simple majority.
The bill is intended to fight money laundering around the world, thwart the financing of terrorism and protect the U.S. banking system from illicit money. It would give the Treasury secretary authority to require special record-keeping and reporting rules for American banks and other financial institutions and would make it a crime to smuggle more than $10,000 over U.S. borders.
Rep. Marge Roukema, New Jersey Republican, who wrote the smuggling provision, called the legislation "a significant step down the right track to cripple the terrorist network."
In the Senate, the anti-money-laundering measure is attached to the counterterrorism legislation sparked by the Sept. 11 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The House and Senate both have passed versions of the popular anti-terrorism legislation. But the House version does not contain the money-laundering provisions, a separation that "could be the death warrant for strong anti-money-laundering legislation," Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, told reporters Tuesday.
There is potentially "a lot of mischief to be played" with stand-alone money-laundering legislation in negotiations for a compromise between House and Senate lawmakers, said Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, Maryland Democrat, chairman of the Senate banking committee.
The deep-pocketed banking industry has been lobbying for changes in the legislation. The American Bankers Association, financial services giant Citigroup and investment banking firm J.P. Morgan Chase are among those that want Congress to leave some of the details about what banks can do up to the Treasury Department rather than spell out specifics in the law.
"This is not a moment for politics as usual to rear its ugly head in the Capitol," said Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat. He underlined the political influence of Texas bankers.
Bipartisan legislation to fight money laundering died in Congress last year, partly because of heavy lobbying by Texas bankers. They claim being overburdened with federal paperwork requirements because of the large volume of cash transactions made over the border with Mexico.
The only vote against the House bill was cast by Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican.

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