Washington Update

FASEB Endorses Bills Supporting Researchers Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Ellen Kuo
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

FASEB recently endorsed two bills supporting researchers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: the Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act (H.R. 8044), cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Frank Lucas (R-OK), and the Research Investment to Spark the Economy Act (H.R. 7308, also known as the RISE Act), introduced by Representatives Dianne DeGette (D-OK) and Fred Upton (R-MI).

To forestall the loss of research talent, the Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act creates a fellowship program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) for postdoctoral researchers who are unable to continue their research at universities due to COVID-19. Introduced on August 14, the act authorizes $250 million for fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

The RISE Act has 135 House cosponsors, 124 Democrats and 11 Republicans. On September 14, a big endorsement came from the business community when the U.S. Chamber joined more than 300 external groups supporting the bill.

A total of $26 billion in emergency relief is included in the bill to help federal science agencies such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and NSF, research universities, independent institutions, and national laboratories continue working on federally funded research projects disrupted by COVID-19. Of the $26 billion, $10 billion is authorized to be appropriated for the National Institutes of Health and $3 billion for NSF.

In the House, the RISE Act remains in committee. Meanwhile, the companion bill, S. 4286, Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act was marked up on September 16 and reported out of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.