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  • Epilepsies Action Network

"Dear Colleague" Letters from Epilepsy Caucus Chairs to their Peers

EAN worked with our partner the Epilepsy Foundation (EF) to draft and circulate two member-led "Dear Colleague" letters (in House and Senate) advocating for appropriations priorities across the epilepsies.

"Dear Colleague" letters are another tool in the tool box to increase awareness of the epilepsies on Capitol Hill and advocatefor more resources.

A "Dear Colleague" letter is an official correspondence which is sent by a Member, committee, or officer of the United States House of Representatives or United States Senate. It is distributed from Members to other Members in congressional offices and frequently begin with the salutation "Dear Colleague" - hence their name.

"Dear Colleague" letters are often used to encourage other Members to cosponsor, support, or oppose a bill and generally include a concerning a bill or resolution generally include a description of the legislation or other subject matter as well as reasons for support or opposition. Senders or signatories of such letters become identified with the particular issue.

With Congress starting to work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 spending bills, many "Dear Colleague" letters are being circulated supporting robust funding in FY 2025. In April, co-chairs of the House of Representatives Congressional Epilepsy Caucus - Representatives Greg Murphy, MD (R-NC-03) and Jim Costa (D-CA-21) sent a "Dear Colleague" letter to the key subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee. These letters urged members of Congress to sign on in support of funding for some of the important epilepsy research and programs that had not been included in other letters. Seven other bipartisan members signed on to the letter. Although this may seem like a small number, building support for letters takes time and this is a terrific start.

Similarly, a Senate letter sent in May was addressed to key subcommittees of the Senate Appriprations Committee It requested continued funding to support existing epilepsy research and programs including The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Epilepsy program and The Epilepsy Research Program (ERP) within the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). Continued support for the Brain Initaitive was also noted.

The asks in these letters are delicately negotiated with the staff and Members of the bipartisan co-chairs of each Caucus and take a great deal of time and savvy. This is yet another example of the work the epilepsies' government relations teams do behind the scenes to educate and build support for our broad community and needs and grassroots advocates can do to engage their members of Congress in support of the epilepsies.

Importantly, these are just two of many examples of "Dear Colleague" letters that touch the epilepsy community. Other important letters have been sent related to funding for the NIH, BRAIN Initiative and VA neurology Centers of Excellence. We thank all members of Congress who led and signed on to these letters, seeking robust funding for epilepy research programs in FY 2025!


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