WirePOLITICS: Rep. Fitzpatrick helps pass terror financing, mental health legislation

Tom Waringthe Wire

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8th dist.), chairman of the Financial Services Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, led the House in passing a package of counter-terrorism financing legislation aimed at strengthening national strategy to combat terrorist financing activities.

“Any terrorist organization or rogue actor needs access to the global financial system to sustain their operations. By restricting funding, we deprive groups like ISIS, Boko Haram and al Shabaab of their ability to operate and carry out their vicious acts,” Fitzpatrick said. “The House voted to make certain U.S. policy considers every option to combat the threats posed by these deadly organizations. I thank the Task Force for sounding the alarm on the dangerous global impact of illicit financing.”

The House advanced bills requiring the president, acting through the Treasury Secretary, to develop and publish an annual government strategy to combat money laundering and terror financing; requiring the Treasury Department to investigate ways to incorporate U.S. Embassies into counter-terrorism financing efforts and to improve anti-terror finance monitoring of cross-border fund transfers; and authorizing the Treasury Secretary to include all funds when issuing certain geographic targeting orders, including funds in an electronic fund transfer.

The House considered these bills after two years of investigation by the Task Force.

Fitzpatrick said combating terrorism financing is an often overlooked component of the U.S. national security strategy.

“These bills will ensure the Treasury Department and Congress continually evaluate and improve our nation’s capability to deprive terrorists of the financial resources they need  to execute their operations,” he said.

The bills have been sent to the Senate.

Fitzpatrick also joined the House in passing the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act [H.R. 2646], legislation he co-sponsored to reform the nation’s mental health system by refocusing programs, reforming grants and removing federal barriers for care.

More than 11 million Americans have severe schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, while millions are going without treatment.

Specifically, H.R. 2646 establishes a new Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to head the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency, coordinating federal mental health programs.

The bill also creates a National Mental Health and Substance Abuse Lab to drive evidence-based grants. It also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to undertake rulemaking to clarify when communication can take place under HIPAA to ensure the best communication among providers, families and patients.

The bill codifies a recent Medicaid managed care rule to foster access to care for short-term stays of adults in institutions for mental disease, including authorizations to improve mental health care for children with serious emotional disturbance.

“We are so excited that the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act has been passed by the House,” said Kathleen Campbell, president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Bucks County. “The bill takes important steps to improve mental health care. Enhancing crisis response, promoting early intervention and integrating mental health, substance use and primary care will go a long way in helping the one in five individuals who have a mental health condition so they can live well and thrive.”

“This bill offers an impressive array of strategies to help us do better. I applaud Congressman Fitzpatrick for his support of this legislation and his long-standing commitment to improving mental health services in Bucks County,” said Alan Hartl, CEO of the Lenape Valley Foundation. ••

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