Amid the bitter partisanship in Washington that consumes DC’s political class and the DC media, I hear from folks back home all the time that Washington looks broken and more divided than ever.
And it is to an extent. But I want to highlight some bipartisan work I’ve been doing that does not garner much media attention, and that’s my efforts to disrupt terrorist and illicit financing networks via my work on the Terrorism and Illicit Finance Subcommittee.
This issue hits close to home for me and many others. Some readers may recall Operation Smokescreen from the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s. If you need a refresher or are not familiar, it was a multi-agency and federal and state effort to disrupt a Hezbollah cell’s operations in North Carolina. Since Operation Smokescreen, we’ve seen terrorist and illicit financial networks evolve and become increasingly more complex as they adopt new technologies. The growing sophistication of international terror financing networks needs a national response in my view.
That is why I introduced a bill, H.R. 3321, the National Strategy for Combating Terrorist, Underground, and Other Illicit Financing Act, to directly address this problem. I was able to work to get this bipartisan bill signed by President Donald Trump and passed into law as part of the Russia, Iran and North Korea Sanctions Act.
My bill directs the Department of the Treasury to develop a national strategy to combat the financing of terrorism and related forms of illicit finance involving all levels of government. This bill will get us closer to a coordinated strategy on disrupting these illicit financial networks in the hopes that we are able to starve terrorist groups like ISIS of the resources they need to carry out their radical agenda. I hope this strikes you, as it did me, as a commonsense approach.
Additionally, I’ve introduced and lead the bipartisan H.R. 5036, the Financial Technology Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives just a few weeks back with Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch. The bill creates a private/public task force to study terrorist use of cryptocurrency and prevent its use. It also creates a targeted rewards program for information leading to capture of terrorists, illicit actors or people using cryptocurrencies for terrorism. These are commonsense tools that we can give Treasury and FinCEN to uphold the integrity of our financial systems and disrupt the networks of bad guys and terrorists.
Here’s the bottom line: Some things are still non-partisan in Washington, even as we’ve experienced new lows during the recent confirmation battle over now Justice Brett Kavanaugh. But like I said, bipartisanship exists, and I’m glad to play a small role in it through my work on the House Terrorism and Illicit Finance Subcommittee. The rest of Washington should follow our lead.