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Coalitions Deliver Infrastructure Recommendations to Congressional Leadership

May 21, 2021

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CONTACTS
Christa Wagner, Senior Legislative Analyst

The AAMC joined two coalitions in urging congressional leaders to provide support for research infrastructure investments through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in upcoming legislation to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure and support economic recovery.

The association was one of 229 members of the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research that signed a May 19 letter to congressional leaders that urged them to provide supplemental investments in the medical research enterprise, noting the importance of the NIH to the overall health of the nation.

“Like the physical roads and bridges that we traditionally consider infrastructure, our nation’s medical research facilities and research personnel are critical infrastructure that are essential to improve our health and prosperity,” the letter stated.

Citing the disruptions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic on the medical research workforce, the Ad Hoc Group members urged Congress to provide one-time emergency funding for federal research agencies at levels recommended in the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act (H.R. 869/S. 289), including $10 billion for the NIH [refer to Washington Highlights, Feb. 5].

They also noted the importance of investing in physical research infrastructure, including cutting-edge research facilities such as biosafety level 3+ laboratories and information technology (IT) for enhanced data science capabilities.

Both the AAMC and Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research highlighted the needed support for research infrastructure, as well as continued robust funding growth for the NIH, in written statements delivered to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies in advance of its May 19 fiscal year 2022 public witness hearing.

Following President Joe Biden’s request for an $18 billion investment in VA hospital infrastructure in the American Jobs Plan, the AAMC also joined a May 20 letter to congressional leaders as a member of the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA) executive committee. FOVA urged Congress to provide the proposed funds for VA hospitals and ensure that the funds would be available to improve VA research infrastructure, which underlies the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research program.

“We believe additional investments in VA research facilities and IT infrastructure are critical to sustaining a modern and competitive research program focused on veteran-centric conditions, which allows for swift translation of research findings to improved patient care,” the executive committee wrote, noting nearly $100 million in documented immediate repair needs in VA research facilities.

“We urge Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to invest in VA hospital and research facility improvements to continue supporting those who have served by providing care in world-class facilities informed by state-of-the-art research. We look forward to working with you towards this goal,” the letter concluded.

In April, President Biden released a two-pronged economic recovery proposal through the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan [refer to Washington Highlights, April 2, April 30]. The president has continued to engage with members of Congress on his proposals for infrastructure improvements, but no timeline has been set for congressional action.

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