Mike Fitzpatrick

Mike Fitzpatrick

PENNSYLVANIA's 8th DISTRICT

Terror Financing Task Force Holds First Hearing of 2016

2016/02/04

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Ranking Member Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) together held the first hearing of the newly-reauthorized Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing Wednesday focused on trade-based money laundering.

Trade-based money laundering has been widely recognized as the most common form of money laundering and value transfer method utilized by crime and terrorist organizations, allowing these groups the ability to move billions of dollars annually virtually undetected. Given the considerable volume of international trade and the value of the transactions, the effects of trade-based money laundering can result in extensive repercussions for global commerce and government revenues. In response, the Department of Homeland Security established the first Trade Transparency Unit (TTU) in 2004 to examine anomalies and financial irregularities in trade data to identify instances of trade-based money laundering and customs fraud.

“In an increasingly connected world, trade-based money laundering allows terror and criminal syndicates to disguise their billions of dollars annually through the use of trade transactions in an attempt to legitimize their illicit origins. This cannot be allowed to continue,” said Fitzpatrick. “Building on what we know and have learned, this session of the task force will take a much closer look at this process as well as investigate several lesser known methodologies mentioned in previous hearings, including terror funding streams from Latin America, developing our regional partners’ capabilities to combat terror financing and the funding of foreign based terrorists.”

“With the complexity and rapid growth of international trade, there is ample opportunity for terrorist financers and criminal organizations to exploit the global financial system and engage in trade-based money laundering with low risk of being caught. We must increase transparency in the global trade network in order to increase the ability of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and other organizations to investigate this illicit money laundering and to halt this revenue source for terrorist organizations,” said Lynch. “I look forward to working closely with Chairman Fitzpatrick and our colleagues to address this critical issue and other potential vulnerabilities in the global financial system during the new session of the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing.”

Testifying at the hearing were:

  • Mr. John Cassara, former U.S. Intelligence Officer and Treasury Special Agent

  • Mr. Louis Bock, former Senior Special Agent, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

  • Mr. Farley Mesko, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sayari Analytics

  • Dr. Nikos Passas, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Northeastern University

“[The Department of Homeland Security] has neither the customs nor financial expertise to make the [Trade Transparency Unit] initiative a success. The loser here is our ability to tackle trade-based money laundering and tax revenue loss on a grand scale along with a missed opportunity to target funding flowing to terrorist targets such as ISIS which, of necessity, do participate in global trade,” said Bock.

Key Takeaways from the Hearing:

  • The Department of the Treasury, citing Immigration and Customs Enforcement information, has described trade-based money laundering as capable of laundering billions of dollars annually.

  • Key characteristics of the international trade system make it both attractive and vulnerable to illicit exploitation, including the enormous volume of trade, the complexity of foreign exchange transactions, and the limited ability to exchange customs data between countries.

  • Although trade-based money laundering is widely recognized as one of the most common manifestations of international money laundering, it appears to be less understood among policymakers than traditional forms of money laundering.

On Monday, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced arrests targeting Lebanese Hizballah’s External Security Organization Business Affairs Component (BAC), which is involved in international criminal activities such as drug trafficking and drug proceed money laundering. The proceeds from illicit drug sales are laundered internationally and used to purchase weapons for Hizballah’s involvement in Syria. As the DEA notes, this multi-national investigation “spans the globe… and once again highlights the dangerous global nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism.” 

Building on previous findings, the task force will continue to hold hearings with U.S. terror financing officials and global counterterrorism experts to identify weaknesses in current policy, while working to ensure terror groups are unable to financially support their operations. 

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GOP Lawmaker Asks FDA for Criminal Inquiry Into J&J Device

2016/01/12


Open letter to the president: a call for cooperation

2016/01/12


Local lawmakers at center of fight for conservation funding

2016/01/12


OPINION: A bipartisan commitment to environmental conservation and education

2015/12/30

“[P]reservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.” - President Ronald Reagan, 1984

One of the important areas of agreement in the nation’s capital is the unifying understanding of the importance of protecting and conserving our national resources.

Together, Republicans and Democrats in this Congress have continued advancing that common objective by working together to protect open spaces and wild places, while keeping the government’s reach in check. Through educational initiatives and supporting programs with successful track records, I am proud to advocate for bipartisan steps to address what President Reagan knew was a common sense issue, not a partisan challenge.

Land and resource conservation has always been an area of bipartisan agreement – and one which Congress has worked to strengthen this session. From reforming the tax code to extend tax incentives for landowners who set aside property for conservation purposes to fully funding the Forest Legacy program, steady progress is being made.

Additionally, there has been renewed focus on the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). For more than 50 years, this program has been the leading program in protecting America’s natural heritage and providing recreation opportunities for everyone - at no cost to taxpayers. The LWCF fund is supported entirely by a portion of royalties oil and gas companies pay for the right to drill in federal waters.

It is the only federal program dedicated to the continued conservation of our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness, Civil War battlefields, state and local parks, working forests and critical wildlife areas. Thanks to LWCF, Americans have enjoyed unfettered access to land within and surrounding our national parks, monuments, forests and historic sites from Pennsylvania to Alaska.

As the lead Republican sponsor of legislation permanently reauthorizing the LWCF I’ve worked with a growing coalition of House members to protect our nation’s most important conservation program.

While this vital program was allowed to lapse – expiring in September for the first time in history – Congress took action this month to provide a three year extension of the LWCF. This short-term extension removes the specter of uncertainty from the immediate future, but we must not top short of a long-term solution. With 200 co-sponsors of my legislation in the House and 18 in the Senate, support for permanent reauthorization is strong. Congress must act so future generations can reap the benefits of America’s natural beauty and diversity.

Ensuring that children and students of all ages have access to nature is one part of the puzzle, while educating them to appreciate the importance of the natural environment and act as future stewards is equally important. That is why I am proud to have advocated for legislation that passed as part of the larger Every Student Succeeds Act to bolster American students’ environmental literacy by strengthening their environmental education opportunities.

The provision contained in ESSA comes from the No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) which I introduced alongside Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) in this Congress and the previous. NCLI provides access to federal grants for teachers who design and implement environmental education programs both in and outside the classroom. By encouraging new environmental curricula, the measure also cultivates partnerships and strengthens relationships between school districts, colleges, environmental nonprofits, parks and other community-based organizations – such as the Bucks County Conservation District which is a strong proponent of this idea.

Promoting environmental education is a down payment on our future. Study after study shows that connecting kids to the world around them improves achievement in science as well as reading, math and social studies – all subjects that strengthen our global competitiveness. The enactment of this important measure inspires the next generation of doctors, scientists and engineers and fulfills our responsibility to promote environmental stewardship and conservation throughout the nation.

Paired together, these examples highlight the progress of concrete environmental efforts being undertaken in bipartisan fashion. Through conservation, education, the continued responsible use of our natural resources, and the forces of free market innovation, we can build on America’s tradition of working together as effective stewards of our national resources.

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Committee Votes to Reauthorize Fitzpatrick-led Terror Financing Task Force

2015/12/15

As we’ve seen in recent days and weeks, the threats posed by terrorist organizations like ISIS — as well as lone actors — is real and evolving. As the president correctly noted in his national address, we must work together — Republicans and Democrats, Congress and the Administration — to accomplish the common goal of a safe America and a stable international community.

With the rise of ISIS, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and others, the United States has witnessed a new and dangerous brand of terrorist group: one that funds itself and operates as a transnational criminal organization. This evolution in funding practices made it necessary for the federal government to reevaluate how it combats these threats to ensure we are doing everything possible to financially hinder these groups. On March 25, of this year, the House Committee on Financial Services responded by adopting the initial resolution to create the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing.

With Ranking Member Stephen Lynch, Vice Chair Pittenger and a bipartisan group of 21 members, we held five hearings and briefings with multiple government agencies charged with counter-terror and counter threat finance responsibilities.

The initial six months of operation shed significant light on multiple issues with regards to counter threats finance and anti-money laundering initiatives.

  • First, was the discovery of the various revenue streams ISIS utilizes to fund its terror operation and the ways in which the U.S. may effectively counter them — such as continuing to target IS oil infrastructure, work with regional allies to close porous borders and to better police the travel of foreign fighters.
  • Second, the Task Force brought about a consensus that there is a need for greater information sharing throughout the financial system and between government agencies, as well as an increased integration of government databases.
  • Finally, it became evident through witness testimony and numerous briefings that Congress needs to act on beneficial ownership and to provide the appropriate agencies with sufficient resources to address current challenges.

Building on what we know, a new session of the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing will take a much closer look at several topics, including: trade-based money laundering, terror funding streams from Latin America, developing our regional partners’ capabilities to combat terror financing and the funding of foreign based terrorists.

It is my goal to advance upon the findings from our previous work to discover additional ways Congress may better assist our intelligence, law enforcement, and defense communities to cut off funding streams to terror groups seeking chaos and destruction. To this end, I am confident we can succeed together.

 

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The Faces of E-Free

2015/12/15

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8), the author of the bipartisan E-Free Act [H.R. 3920], has launched a series of speeches on the House floor highlighting he dangers of, and damage done by, the medical device Essure.

In each ‘Faces of E-Free’ speech, Fitzpatrick will tell the personal story of one of the more than 25,000 women negatively impacted by the permanent sterilization devices produced by Bayer.

Since it was approved by the FDA on November 4, 2002, the agency has received over 5,000 formal complaints related to the device. Tens of thousands of women have reported symptoms including extreme pelvic and abdominal pain, migraines, autoimmune reactions, loss of teeth and hair, the metal coil breaking and migrating throughout the body, and the coil cutting into the uterus and other organs in the abdominal cavity. The deaths of four women and five unborn children have been attributed to the use of Essure.

  • Angie Firmalino — Tannersville, NY (12/9/15) HERE
  • Kathryn Fredrickson — Maryland (12/10/15) HERE

 

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Fitzpatrick Statement on Speaker Boehner

2015/09/25

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) released the following statement regarding the announcement that Speaker John Boehner will resign from the speakership and his seat in Congress:

“Under Speaker Boehner’s leadership this House has worked to represent the American people and their interests every day. There is no doubt the Speaker loves his country, his state and this institution. His decision today is the most humble, graceful and selfless act that I’ve seen in my time in Congress. I wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”

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Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th district which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

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Fitzpatrick Votes Against Iran Deal

2015/09/11

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) joined an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the House Friday in voting against the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran [H.R. 4361]. Additionally, the House passed legislation [H.R. 3460] prohibiting the president from lifting congressionally approved sanctions on Iran

Speaking on the House floor prior to the vote, Fitzpatrick delivered the following remarks:

 

“Mr. Speaker, as we’ve heard so far during debate on the Iran Joint Plan of Action, there dozens of shortcomings and concerns when it comes to this Administration’s nuclear deal — and no doubt we will hear dozens more before all is said and done.

The more we study this agreement — Republican or Democrat — the clearer it is to see that it is does not measure up to its ultimate goal: To prevent a nuclear Iran. The essential restrictions on Iran’s key bomb-making technology sunset in as soon as 10 years — leaving an internationally recognized, industrial-scale nuclear program with breakout times shrinking down to nearly zero.

And that’s if Iran doesn’t cheat. But we’ll have a tough time knowing because what was “anytime, anywhere” inspections of Iranian nuclear sites has now become “managed access” — leaving Iran as long as 24 days to scrub sites; enough time to nearly completely remove incriminating evidence of wrongdoing. Or the option of self-reporting compliance in places, like their military base at Parchin.

However, what this deal does accomplish is precipitate a “nuclear arms race” in the Middle East — a reality we’re already seeing as nations like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have begun building up their nuclear infrastructure in response.

Any of those details should be enough to reject this deal. But that would not even mention the most objectionable portion: that this good-faith agreement with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror frees up hundreds of billions of dollars in economic sanctions and frozen assets seemingly without any regard for what that money will be used for.

 

For the last six months, I’ve had the opportunity to chair the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing — a bipartisan group established by both parties of the Financial Services Committee to look into the increasing ability for terror groups to fund and finance their actions, and evaluate the U.S. response to these challenges.

Specifically, the Task Force examined the impact of this nuclear agreement on Tehran’s state sponsorship of terror proxies across the region. What became abundantly clear was the influx of hundreds of billions of dollars to Iran authorized in this deal will increase that nation’s ability to continue regional destabilization through support of groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiite militias, the Houthis in Yemen, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus.

This deal goes about rolling back sanctions while expert witnesses have testified before our task force — even as recently as yesterday — advocating for increased sanctions. There’s a real disconnect here between what the experts tell us and what the Administration is doing.

Iran’s budget already features a nine-figure line item to support terrorism. And there is no doubt that the activities it funds will expand Iran’s radical efforts — a fact even acknowledged by the Administration following negotiations.

Mr. Speaker, what we have today is a bad deal; one that clears the way for a nuclear Iran, gravely endangers allies like Israel, and — with our blessing — makes an already volatile, unstable Middle East less safe by giving Tehran more power to fund its terror syndicates.

What is so troubling to me is that a number of my colleagues after two years of negotiations predicated on “’no deal’ being better than a ‘bad deal,’” have begrudgingly accepted a self-admitted “bad deal” solely because it’s better than “no deal.”

A better deal would include:

  • Truly “anytime, anywhere” inspections of Iran’s entire nuclear program,
  • A plan of action to oversee and manage any funds returning to Iran through sanctions relief or a return to the international banking community,
  • The release of American prisoners improperly held by the regime, and
  • Payment of the $22 billion in compensation owed by Iran to families of September 11th victims — including Bucks County residents. The court judgement should be paid before Iran receives any funds under this agreement.

I urge my colleagues to reconsider what the reality of this “bad deal” means for the safety of the world and the future of our nation’s foreign policy. I urge my colleagues to reject this deal because it is one that will have decades-long consequences to our national security.”

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Poll: PA-8 Opposes Iran Deal 2-1

2015/09/08

LANGHORNE, PA – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) released the results of a district-wide poll* which shows Bucks and Montgomery county residents oppose the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran by a two-to-one margin.

“It’s been said: ‘As goes Bucks County, so goes the nation.’ As one of the few remaining true swing districts, our congressional district provides a cross-section of America: roughly half Republican and half Democrat,” said Fitzpatrick.

“No example is more reflective than the results of a recent online poll from my office about the Iran nuclear agreement. Nearly 2,500 constituents participated and 66-percent opposed the deal. These returns are in line with national polls showing Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of the deal by a 2–1 margin - including 2/3 of national security professionals. These results cut across geographic, cultural and political lines.”

Fitzpatrick, chair of the bipartisan Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, has expressed a number of concerns regarding the agreement, including its failure to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, the increased threat of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and the danger of sanctions relief expanding Tehran’s sponsorship of terror.

* The online survey data was collected between August 20 and September 1. A total of 2,494 constituent responses were recorded on the question “Do you support the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran?” – 1,634 “No”/860 “Yes”.

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Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th district which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

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Contact Information

2400 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4276
Fax 202-225-9511
fitzpatrick.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Financial Services

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is a lifelong resident of Bucks County, where he has been an active member of his community for decades.  In the 113th Congress, Mike’s number one priority is job creation.  Mike recognizes that government does not create jobs, but fosters an environment in which the private sector can create permanent, family sustaining jobs.

Mike graduated from Bishop Egan High School in Fairless Hills and earned his bachelor’s degree while working his way through St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida. Upon graduation, Mike was awarded the university’s highest service award.

Following graduation, Mike returned to Pennsylvania and in 1988, he graduated from Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law. While attending law school Mike was the Business Manager of the Dickinson Journal of International Law.  Mike is admitted to practice law in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In 1995, Mike was appointed to the Bucks County Board of Commissioners where he served for ten years.  As a Bucks County Commissioner Mike was a champion of responsible county social service programs, job creation and efficient government administration.  He fought to preserve over 11,000 acres of beautiful farmland, parkland and critical natural areas. His record on open space earned him recognition from a variety of environmental organizations, including the Greenspace Alliance.

During his time as Commissioner, Mike led the fight to establish the county’s first Enterprise Zone, a project that eventually led to the creation of over 4,000 private sector jobs in Bucks County.

As a Member of the 109th Congress Mike demonstrated himself to be an independently- minded advocate for his constituents. He fought for stronger borders, lower taxes and smaller budget deficits. Locally he worked successfully to bring the National Veterans’ Cemetery to Bucks County.  Mike was also instrumental in flood mitigation efforts along the Neshaminy Creek watershed, which had been plagued by persistent flooding.

Mike returned to Congress in 2011 after practicing law in Bucks County focusing on representing small businesses and local governments.

Mike and his wife Kathy have been married twenty-four years and have six children – three girls (Katie, Maggie and Molly) and three boys (Jimmy, Mick and Tommy). An Eagle Scout, Mike has remained active in Scouting and is a past-President of the Bucks County Council of the Boy Scouts of America.


Serving With

Mike Kelly

PENNSYLVANIA's 3rd DISTRICT

Scott Perry

PENNSYLVANIA's 4th DISTRICT

Glenn Thompson

PENNSYLVANIA's 5th DISTRICT

Ryan Costello

PENNSYLVANIA's 6th DISTRICT

Patrick Meehan

PENNSYLVANIA's 7th DISTRICT

Bill Shuster

PENNSYLVANIA's 9th DISTRICT

Tom Marino

PENNSYLVANIA's 10th DISTRICT

Louis Barletta

PENNSYLVANIA's 11th DISTRICT

Keith Rothfus

PENNSYLVANIA's 12th DISTRICT

Charlie Dent

PENNSYLVANIA's 15th DISTRICT

Joe Pitts

PENNSYLVANIA's 16th DISTRICT

Tim Murphy

PENNSYLVANIA's 18th DISTRICT

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