Congress Seeks Immediate Research Ideas for Stimulus Legislation

While medical science works to find a cure to the COVID-19, social and behavioral science has and will continue to impact the response to the pandemic. The staff of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives wants to make sure that all sciences continue to play a role in fighting the coronavirus, and asks for ideas on how the next economic stimulus package in the United States can support research.

“Specifically,” the committee’s lead Republican and Democratic staffers have written in a letter to research organizations, “we seek your ideas for research, development, and innovation funding and policies, including research infrastructure.”

They want to input now. “We have no insight into timing for any such package(s), but will keep you updated as we hear anything. Please try to get us your input by Monday, April 13.” Input should be emailed to [email protected]

The staffers, Richard Obermann for the Democrats and Josh Mathis of the Republicans, note that their committee’s purview does not extend to all federal agencies that might be interested in COVID research, and so ideas that might be a natural for the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Defense might not be a perfect fit for suggestions in this appeal.  “Having said that,’ they add, “we also remind you that our jurisdiction is broad enough to be inclusive of ideas beyond just traditional R&D, including for example demonstration projects carried out by the Department of Energy and the Regional Innovation Program at Department of Commerce/Economic Development Administration [the latter of which looks at disaster recovery, for example]. And if you see opportunities for new/unique partnerships between SS&T agencies and other agencies outside of our jurisdiction, we welcome those ideas.” They refer inquiries to their website, https://science.house.gov/.

“In an effort to create some coherence and structure to our proposal,” they conclude, “we have laid out a number of categories under which most ideas will neatly fit. If your idea does not neatly fit in any of these categories, feel free to list as ‘other.’ Please be as descriptive as possible, including providing a rationale for any specific level of funding proposed.”

  1. Opportunities for Additional R&D and Related Activities Specific to COVID-19 Response and Recovery
    1. R&D Funding
    1. Infrastructure to enable R&D, including computing, databases, testbeds, etc.
    1. Manufacturing, including Manufacturing USA, MEP, and other programs/activities that may help address supply chain, rapid drug/vaccine/PPE manufacturing, and other domestic manufacturing for near-term response and recovery
  • Near-Term Response to COVID Impacts on the larger Research Enterprise
    • Supplements to Existing Grants
    • Needs for currently operating facilities and facilities currently under construction
    • Scholarships/Fellowships to keep STEM students in the pipeline through the economic crisis
  • “Shovel-Ready” Research Infrastructure
  1. Federal Facilities Maintenance and Construction (e.g. modernizing NIST, DOE labs, and NASA Center facilities)
    1. Mid-scale projects (in NSF speak that’s instrumentation and facilities in the approx. $10m-$100m range)
    1. Large new construction projects (telescopes, supercomputers, research ships, light and neutron sources, spacecraft, etc) – including significant upgrades
  2. University research labs modernization
  • Long-term Economic Stimulus/Recovery
  1. Funding for new grants and cooperative agreements (do we constrain or prioritize topics in any way, e.g. economically critical areas?)
    1. If you propose in this category, please make an effort to address the sustainability challenges and lessons learned from ARRA
    1. STEM Workforce Development
    1. Manufacturing – security and stability of US manufacturing capacity and supply chain over the long term.
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