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Members of Congress, Coalitions Urge Support for Research in Future COVID-19 Supplementals

May 1, 2020

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CONTACTS
Christa Wagner, Senior Legislative Analyst

Nearly 200 bipartisan members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to congressional leadership urging the inclusion of $26 billion in supplemental funding to federal research agencies in an upcoming COVID-19 supplemental relief package.

The April 29 letter to House leaders described the need for additional funding by outlining the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic to the research community.

Specifically, the letter urges supplemental funding for federal research agencies to mitigate disruptions related to the pandemic by supporting:

  • Supplements for research grants and contracts.
  • Emergency relief to sustain research support personnel and base operating costs for core research facilities.
  • Additional graduate student and postdoc fellowships, traineeships, and research assistantships.

The congressional effort follow the AAMC’s April 7 recommendation, in conjunction with members of the higher education community, to provide additional funds to support federal research agencies [see Washington Highlights, April 10].

The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, convened by the AAMC, sent an April 27 letter to congressional leaders urging $31 billion in additional supplemental funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in future comprehensive COVID-19 relief bills.

This recommendation supports immediate, near-, and long-term needs of NIH-funded researchers and includes the NIH’s proportion of the congressional $26 billion request as well as additional funding for additional COVID-19 research, ramping up research activities that have stalled during the pandemic, and long-term investments in the workforce and physical laboratory infrastructure. The letter also encourages Congress to include statutory language in the next package to exempt key HHS programs from the regular appropriations discretionary spending caps for fiscal year 2021.

“To maximize our nation’s capacity to quell the current crisis, prevent a recurrence of COVID-19 or the emergence of future pandemics, and sustain momentum across the broad array of research supported by NIH, the Ad Hoc Group encourages Congress to enact additional measures to support the biomedical research enterprise,” the letter reads. It also states that, “to ensure that the U.S. maintains its ability to provide new and better cures, diagnostics, and treatments for patients everywhere, additional support for NIH and its grantees is essential in this critical time.”

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