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  • Washington Highlights

    COVID-19 Relief Sought for Research Agencies


    Christa Wagner, Manager, Government Relations

    As discussions on the next COVID-19 rescue package got underway between the Biden administration and bipartisan lawmakers, the AAMC and other stakeholders again urged Congress to provide pandemic relief funds for federal research agencies.

    The AAMC joined the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the American Council on Education in a Jan. 26 letter to congressional leaders that reiterated their recommendation of $26 billion in supplemental COVID-19 emergency relief funding for federal research agencies [see Washington Highlights, Aug. 7, 2020], including $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This recommendation is consistent with the bipartisan, bicameral Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act introduced in the 116th Congress [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 18, 2020].

    The higher education associations urged Congress to “provide critical support for the nation’s scientists and engineers and the research operations that underpin the U.S. scientific enterprise that are critical to beating the pandemic, supporting communities, and revitalizing the economy.”

    “It is this research enterprise that conducted the fundamental science that led to the development of today’s mRNA vaccines for COVID-19,” the letter stated. “Without immediate relief to ameliorate the pandemic’s harmful impacts, the contributions of research universities and hospitals to America’s health, economy and national security will be impaired for years to come.”

    The AAMC also joined more than 130 members of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) in a Jan. 27 letter that recommended $3 billion in urgent investment in the National Science Foundation (NSF), echoing the NSF funding level outlined in the RISE Act.

    “Without emergency relief, we risk many early career researchers and STEM students leaving science altogether, losing a generation of diverse talent that is the bedrock of our national competitiveness,” the coalition letter stated.

    The letters to Congress restating the pandemic’s impacts to the research enterprise follow the Jan. 14 release of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion legislative proposal aimed at a more immediate “rescue” response to the COVID-19 pandemic and come ahead of an anticipated “recovery” proposal President Biden is expected to outline before a joint session of Congress [see Washington Highlights, Jan. 15].