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Congressman Chaka Fattah Talks With ATF; Receives Honors From Research Sector.

Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA).
Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah.

Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies who also sits on the Subcommittee of Energy and Water Development – convened discussions last week with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Todd Jones regarding ATF leadership and the series of vacancies at the agency.

Fattah’s meeting came shortly after the Attorney General Eric Holder recognized Fattah for the congressman’s work in supporting the agency.

“I had the opportunity to meet with Todd Jones, our new Director of the ATF in Washington. I am thrilled that after seven years without at director, this critical agency is now operating with a permanent leader, capable of carrying out the agency’s mission and ensuring it has the resources and leadership in place to do so,” Fattah said via a statement released by his office. “Our meeting came one day after Attorney General Holder announced that the Department of Justice – which oversees the ATF – would lift its three-year hiring freeze as a result of the bipartisan appropriations bill passed and signed into law last month.

“Together with my colleagues on the CJS Committee, I worked hard to restore DOJ’s funding to pre-sequester levels and am extremely pleased the Department can start filling critical vacancies and resume a normal hiring process,” Fattah added. “I was able to speak directly with Director Jones about the real impact lifting the hiring freeze will have on the ATF and its operation…I am fully assured DOJ is on strong footing to keep our communities and country safe.”

On a related note, Fattah, along with Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), were recently recognized by Research!America - one of the nation’s oldest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliances – for their work in “advancing medical innovation to start lives and strengthen the economy.”

“Reps. Wolf and Fattah are exceptional champions for research,” said Research!America Chair John Edward Porter. “They have worked vigorously to increase funding for research, support policies that ignite public and private sector innovation, maintain our global competitiveness, and help patients and their families struggling with costly and debilitating diseases.”

Fattah has long been a supporter of neuroscience research, especially for Pennsylvania, as Fattah has steered hundreds of millions of dollars toward Philadelphia’s world-class science, research and pharmaceutical sectors.

Fattah also formed an international research alliance with Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), dedicated to creating a partnership in neuroscience research particularly aimed at developing treatments for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases and moving them from the laboratory to the marketplace. Last year, Fattah introduced America’s FOCUS Act, legislation that would channel additional federal dollars into the medical research supported and conducted by NIH at no cost to the taxpayer.

Wolf is currently a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, presides as chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee, and is a member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and State and Foreign Operations subcommittees. Throughout his distinguished tenure in Congress, Wolf has worked to advance the state of science and R&D, and he recognizes the role innovation plays in our nation’s economy, health and international competitiveness. Notably, he was a founder of the “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” Commission, which sparked a national effort to bolster federal science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and R&D programs.

“It has been a true privilege to play a role in advocating for the resources and policy environment required not only to maintain our global leadership in the scientific arena, but to optimize the use of science for the good of our nation and the world,” Wolf said. “Scientific innovation has saved countless lives, fueled our economy, equipped our troops and advanced our ability to heal wounded warriors. I am convinced it will ultimately supply the multilateral communication and understanding necessary to advance human rights and protect the health of people worldwide. I truly appreciate being recognized by Research!America, an alliance fully committed to the same fundamental goals.”

Fattah and Wolf have shown that, even in a fractured Congress, party stalwarts can work together on a vast array of important issues – like supporting greater scientific research. And Fattah – who is scheduled to also receive the “Pioneer in Healthcare Policy Award,” presented by the Brain Mapping Foundation and the Society for Brain Mapping & Therapeutics – said honors such as these are gratifying, but there’s much more work to be done in certain areas, particularly medical research.

“It is an honor to be recognized by Research!America, an organization that works day in and day out to make medical research one of our country’s top priorities,” Fattah said. “I have been proud to partner with the scientific and health communities — especially in the area of neuroscience — to advance our nation’s commitment to research and advocacy. There is so much at stake here; medical research is not only a conduit to breakthrough preventions and cures, it is a critical driver of our economy.

“When we’ve found a cure for Alzheimer’s or unlocked the mystery of autism, it will be a result of our collaborative efforts.”