ASM Endorses Bipartisan Letter in Support of Emergency Funding for Research Labs in Next COVID-19 Package

April 22, 2020

ASM and partners are asking members of Congress to join their colleagues in signing a bipartisan letter urging House Leadership to include funding for scientific and medical researchers in the next COVID-19 relief package.

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy:

As Congress continues to work on economic relief legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we ask that you address the challenges faced by the U.S. scientific research workforce during this crisis. While COVID-19 related-research is now in overdrive, most other research has been slowed down or stopped due to pandemic-induced closures of campuses and laboratories. We are deeply concerned that the people who comprise the research workforce graduate students, postdocs, principal investigators and technical support staff – are at risk.

While Federal rules have allowed researchers to continue to receive their salaries from federal grant funding, their work has been stopped due to shuttered laboratories and facilities and many researchers are currently unable to make progress on their grants. Additionally, researchers will need supplemental funding to support an additional 4 months’ salary, as many campuses will remain shuttered until the fall, at the earliest. Many core research facilities – typically funded by user fees – sit idle. Still, others have incurred significant costs for shutting down their labs, donating the personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health care workers and cancelling planned experiments.

Congress must act to preserve our current scientific workforce and ensure that the U.S. is prepared to continue our global scientific leadership once this crisis ends.

We strongly support the fourth relief package to include of $26 billion in funding to cover the following important research work:
  • Cover supplements for research grants and contracts (i.e., cost extensions) due to COVID-19 related impacts, including the need for additional salary support and/or research related ramp-up costs;
  • Provide emergency relief to sustain research support personnel and base operating costs for core research facilities and user-funded research services until such time facilities reopen and research activities return to pre-pandemic activity levels; and
  • Fund additional graduate student and postdoc fellowships, traineeships and research assistantships for up to 2 years. Graduate students who could not complete their degrees due to pandemic related impacts should be given priority for graduate fellowships and other forms of support so they can complete their research and degrees.
Supporting the people of the U.S. scientific and medical research community will help stimulate the U.S economy in the near term by keeping these workers employed. Protecting the research workforce is critical to state and local economies as research universities, academic medical centers, independent research institutes and national labs are major employers in all 50 states. In the long term, these researchers are essential to protecting our nation’s public health, national security, economic growth and international competitiveness.

Preserving our scientific infrastructure and protecting our innovation pipeline will help ensure U.S. leadership in the world.

We appreciate your leadership as Congress continues to respond to the economic fallout from this pandemic. Thank you for your attention to this request.

Diana DeGette
Member of Congress
Fred Upton
Member of Congress

Endorsed By: Association of American Universities (AAU), American Council on Education (ACE), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), Association of American Medical Colleges, Union of Concerned Scientists, ACT for NIH, Alzheimer's Association, American Association for Cancer Research, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Geophysical Union, American Lung Association, American Mathematical Society, American Meteorological Society, American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, American Physiological Society, American Society for Cell Biology, American Society for Microbiology, Association of Independent Research Institutes, Autism Speaks, Coalition for the Life Sciences, EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, Friends of Cancer Research, Geological Society of America , JDRF, Research!America, Society for Neuroscience and dozens more!

Author: ASM Advocacy

ASM Advocacy
ASM Advocacy is making it easy and providing opportunities for members to advocate for evidence-based scientific policy.