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Science Appropriator Calls for Administration to Redirect Settlement Funds from Credit Suisse to BRAIN Initiative Research

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SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), a senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee and Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies is calling on the White House to release the funds from the $2.6 billion settlement between Credit Suisse and the Department of Justice to the National Institutes of Health for the purposes of funding the BRAIN Initiative.

A major impetus for the establishment of the White House BRAIN Initiative was the Fattah Neuroscience Initiative which promotes research and discovery across brain cognition, development, disease and injury. The goal of the BRAIN Initiative is to map the activity in the human brain and ultimately better understand how the mind works and discover new ways to treat, prevent and cure long-standing brain disorders such as Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, autism and traumatic brain injury. This endeavor is forecasted to cost more than $300 million a year for the next ten years. Finding funding streams for this huge financial undertaking is a challenge.

Because the need is so great and the reward even greater to the more than 100 million Americans suffering from brain related diseases and disorders, Rep. Fattah says it is appropriate to consider every financial resource available. In his letter to President Obama, Congressman Fattah said, "With this settlement, the United States will be poised to make the greatest investment in neuroscience the world has ever seen."

The contents of the letter Congressman Fattah sent to President Obama is below:

June 06, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As a champion of neuroscience research, I was honored to join you last year in the East Room of the White House for the unveiling of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.  Looking around that room and seeing Dr. Francis Collins and many of the familiar faces that I've worked with through the Fattah Neuroscience Initiative and the Interagency Working Group, I saw how neuroscience had been elevated as a national priority and the opportunity that the BRAIN Initiative represents for this country.  Through this initiative, we have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for this nation-to unlock the mysteries of the human brain and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans and countless individuals throughout the world.  That legacy, however, must not be diminished or dismissed because of the cost associated with it.

In this year of action, we must be forthright in our pursuit of these goals and appropriately consider every resource at our disposal.  Therefore, I respectfully ask that the $2.6 billion settlement between Credit Suisse and the Department of Justice be redirected to the National Institutes of Health for the purposes of funding the BRAIN Initiative.  As you are well aware, it is a common practice for the Department of Justice to use settlement funds from corporate wrongdoing to invest in a worthy cause.  Improving the livelihoods of our citizens and future generations through advancements in the diagnoses of dementia and other related diseases is a worthy cause. 

As you may recall, the proposal in this letter is similar to one I made earlier this year regarding the use of the recent Toyota settlement.  In that letter, I suggested that the funds from the Toyota settlement be used to benefit approximately 16 million young people through youth mentoring and character development programs.  Both of these proposals stem from bi-partisan legislation I introduced with Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick this Congress, H.R. 3580 (the America's FOCUS Act).  This legislation has received the overwhelming support of public interest organizations throughout the country (a complete list of which can be found here: http://www.fattah.house.gov/americas-focus-act/).  If enacted, this legislation would direct all fines, settlements, and penalties into a special fund within the Treasury Department to invest in STEM education and youth mentoring, criminal justice reform, and innovations in medical research, including neuroscience.  Collectively, these investments would benefit the lives of 124 million Americans.  

While I am committed to seeing this legislation through to final passage, legislation is not needed to take advantage of the Credit Suisse settlement to fund the BRAIN Initiative. With this settlement, the United States will be poised to make the greatest investment in neuroscience the world has ever seen.  As you stated in your remarks that day in the East Room, "We can't afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of the world races ahead.  We have to seize them.  I don't want the next job-creating discoveries to happen in China or India or Germany.  I want them to happen right here, in the United States of America."  I agree, and that is why I urge you to take action in redirecting these funds to the National Institutes of Health to secure the future of the BRAIN Initiative and our position as a world leader in innovation and scientific research.

Very truly yours,
Chaka Fattah
Member of Congress

Congressman Fattah has introduced bi-partisan related legislation with Pennsylvania Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick that would direct all fines, settlements, and penalties into a newly created FOCUS fund. The fund would assist an estimated 124 million Americans through youth mentoring and STEM education, medical research and innovation, and justice reinvestment programs.

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