The U.S. House has overwhelmingly passed, 412-1, a measure to strengthen laws against money laundering in a bid to crack down on financial networks that may have supported last month's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
The bill aims to fight money laundering around the world and protect the U.S. banking system from illicit money.
It would give the Treasury Secretary the authority to require special recordkeeping and reporting rules for U.S. banks and other financial institutions and would make it a crime to smuggle more than $10,000 over U.S. borders. "This bill and the strong bipartisan support it enjoys represent a resounding pledge of congressional support for the President in fulfilling his vow to starve terrorists of their funding," said Congressman Michael Oxley, a Republican from Ohio. "In the months since the devastating attacks of September 11, we have learned how easily the terrorists have used American dollars, world class services of the American financial system to underwrite their deadly operations."
"Our medicine today is strong medicine, but it is fair medicine, it is balanced medicine, and the need for it is compelling," said Congressman John LaFalce, a Democrat from New York. "If we cannot take strong steps to impede the funding of terrorist activity in light of recent events, I do not know what incentive it would take."
The Senate passed a similar measure last week as part of an anti-terrorism package. The House also passed an anti-terrorism bill, but without the money laundering provision.
Republican leaders in the House want money laundering to be handled separately from the anti-terrorism bill. Democratic leaders in the Senate want the two issues linked.
A joint conference committee will have to resolve differences in the two versions of the money laundering legislation, and send the final measure to President Bush for his signature.