America's FOCUS Act will require revenue generated by corporate civil and criminal penalties to fund grants that will strengthen America's human capital and economic competitiveness
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02) introduced legislation today that will direct revenue generated by corporate civil and criminal penalties, including bank fines and settlements, to three targeted programs that will strengthen America's human capital and in turn, increase the nation's global competitiveness. The legislation—America's Fund for Future Opportunities and Outcomes in the United States Act, or America's FOCUS Act—is designed to assist an estimated 124 million Americans through youth mentoring and STEM education, medical research and innovation, and justice reinvestment programs.
"This bill presents an opportunity to intentionally direct sums from settlements between the federal government and corporate and financial institutions to programs that can improve the life chances of Americans and allow our country to maintain its economic competitiveness," Congressman Fattah said. "America is the leader in the global economy, but we can only maintain this status by producing a healthy, productive, innovative, and educated workforce."
America's FOCUS Act identifies three key areas with evidence-based success in improving outcomes for individuals and directs the money to be evenly distributed through corresponding agency-administered funds. The annual grants will put money to: support innovations in research and development to provide cures and treatments for medical diseases (National Institutes of Health), fund justice reinvestment projects that increase public safety by managing criminal justice populations more effectively (Department of Justice), and expand youth mentoring and STEM education programs nationwide (Department of Education). The remaining one percent of funds would be reserved for Federal deficit reduction.
In recent years, the Department of Justice has collected billions of dollars annually from corporate fines and settlements. Reports from SNL Financial, a business research firm, showed that between 2010-2012 the country's largest banks agreed to more than $62 billion in settlements—a number that is expected to rise significantly in the wake of recent landmark settlements. In many cases, the U.S. government also receives financial revenue as part of settlements in which no wrongdoing is established. Currently, collected revenues not designated for a specific purpose sit in the General Fund of the Treasury.
The bill is supported by the National Association of Counties, National Urban League, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, MENTOR, First Tee, Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Dream Academy, American Brain Coalition, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, and Amachi.
Congressman Fattah, a 10-term Member of Congress, is the Senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and related agencies, where he has championed medical research, justice reinvestment initiatives, and youth mentoring as national priorities. Fattah has been widely recognized for his work in each of these three issue areas, and is credited with helping more than 30 million Americans through his previous legislative achievements, including GEAR UP and the American Opportunities Tax Credit.
SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah