WASHINGTON-An envelope containing what two preliminary tests say was anthrax was sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's (D-S.D.) office in Hart Senate Office Building. Forty employees, but not Daschle, were in his office when the envelope was opened. His office has been quarantined and some staffers are taking the antibiotic Cipro. This event could seriously dampen activities on Capitol Hill, including anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering legislation. The bills already hit a snag October 12 when the Senate passed the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001, which included money laundering prevention measures. The House passed its Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 (H.R. 2975) the same day, but separately from the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act (H.R. 3004) which passed on the House floor by a 410-1 votte H.R. 2975 contains watered down anti-money laundering provisions. "This measure will strengthen the ability of law enforcement to disrupt the financing of terrorism, enhance the partnership between government and industry to detect terrorist-related transactions, and prevent terrorists from accessing the U.S. financial system through foreign countries and institutions," Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) said of the anti-money laundering bill in his opening remarks. "This is an unusual time in our country," said House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member John LaFalce (D-N.Y.) during his opening statement before the Committee. "We need to act expeditiously and we need to act in a bipartisan manner. We cannot fight this insidious battle against terrorism with one arm tied behind our back." House leaders are intent on keeping the bills separate but indicate that everyone is anxious for the measures to pass. "Comments are coming out of the Senate that they will not support an anti-terrorism bill unless it includes money laundering," according to CUNA Vice President and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn. NAFCU Associate Director of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler noted that many lawmakers worked very hard to prevent the Christmas tree effect-hanging unrelated `ornaments' on the high priority measure. This effort has also caused a problem for NCUA. According to NCUA Director of Public and Congressional Affairs Cliff Northup, NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar had consulted with him about trying to attach the NCUA's vendor oversight authority extension attached to the money laundering legislation. Without an extension, NCUA would lose its ability to oversee credit union data processing and information service provider vendors at the end of the year. All of the other federal financial institution regulators have this authority. Northup said the House committee was not interested in adding NCUA's provision noting that it was "somewhat extraneous to the core issues of money laundering," though the committee did not object to the substance of the amendment. He is continuing to pursue the issue, possibly through a stand-alone piece of legislation. Key provisions in the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act include: * Bolstering law enforcement's ability to find and destroy the financing of terrorist organizations; * Establishing a public-private sector partnership; * Tracking terrorist money kept in offshore havens and increasing foreign cooperation; * Making it a crime to smuggle currency over $10,000; * Making it a crime to knowingly falsify a customer's identity; and * Directing the Treasury Secretary to develop regulations requiring verification of customers' identity before opening accounts. [email protected]

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