By Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick
As we awoke daily to unimaginable tragedy this past week, I was buoyed by the fact that we continually saw the best in our country as folks rallied to help each other in time of need.
I was reminded by something written by Pennsylvania's own Mr. Rogers, who aside from being a constant support for parents raising children, was a Presbyterian minister who always found a way to draw attention to what really matters.
He wrote: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of "disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in this world."
We saw "helpers" in Boston, Washington and West, Texas. All very different places, but all united in profound love of their country and by the fact that in times of trouble, people help.
In Boston, Red Cross blood donation centers were overwhelmed with everyday people wanting to literally give some of themselves to help others, while police, fire and National Guard members ran toward the bombs. In Washington, the vigilance and dedication of the Capitol Police and others supporting evacuations of buildings in the Capitol Complex and tracking suspicious packages kept us safe. In West, Texas, several firefighters fell in their effort to protect their community from an extremely dangerous fire.
There are helpers everywhere in America. That is what sets us apart, and why we will continue to be an exceptional nation.
With these tragedies developing throughout the week, partisanship was kept from the House floor. In times like these, we must stand united, and I am proud of my colleagues in focusing on how to help our fellow Americans in their time of need.
Focusing on our kids and what matters, I was privileged to address a conference of high school students active in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), who met in Hershey. There were several hundred students, many from Bucks and Montgomery counties, who impressed me with the knowledge they've gained through their FBLA activities.
We discussed financial literacy and its importance in their lives as they prepare for their future. It was wonderful to see they understand that free enterprise made this country great, and they understand the role business plays in the strength of our nation and their lives. And we discussed the business risk and reward factor and how America will do well when they do well.
Members of the ARC Alliance representing Bucks County visited the Capitol on Wednesday.
The ARC Alliance assists people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities in obtaining the rights and resources they require to become, to the fullest extent possible, independent, self-sufficient, participating and contributing members of society.
As is typical of our neighbors, they had a great idea, which I fully support. Members of the ARC want to improve the quality of life for those with disabilities through tax-free savings accounts. People caring for those with special needs know the financial costs associated with providing their loved ones with the best possible support. The legislation known as the ABLE Act (HR 647) has over 125 bipartisan co-sponsors, including myself.
While empowering those with disabilities is a critical hand up, savings programs like these can only function if our banking system is sound. Thus, I signed on as an original sponsor of HR 166, a resolution meant to ensure confidence in U.S. bank accounts against arbitrary seizure of personal funds by the federal government in the wake of the financial chaos in Cyprus.
The legislation was sparked after the nation of Cyprus moved forward with a one-time tax on all deposits in that country in order to meet its debt and budget obligations.
Banks function on trust. This resolution makes it clear that the federal government cannot confiscate private funds from federally insured deposit accounts. This measure looks to tell Americans, "Your money is safe in the bank," and to tell the federal government "hands off."
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania's 8th District, which includes all of Bucks County and a portion of Montgomery County.