House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas, R-Okla., introduced legislation April 23 to support the Federal research enterprise’s ability to fight COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

H.R. 6599 – the Computing Opportunities to Vanquish Infectious Diseases Research Act of 2020 (COVID Research Act) – would “provide for coordination of research development for pandemic disease prediction, forecasting and computing, and for other purposes.”

“Our National Labs have already shown the value of using high-performance supercomputing and advanced research facilities to model the novel coronavirus, understand its effects on human cells, and predict its spread,” Rep. Lucas said in a press release. “The Federal research community is doing great work and using their considerable talents to fight this pandemic and address the many challenges it has caused.”

The bill would authorize the development of a national strategy to address infectious diseases by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) interagency working group on Emerging Infectious Disease Prediction and Forecasting. Additionally, it would authorize the National Academies of Science Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Disease and 21st Century Health Threats as an “advisory committee of experts to provide scientific advice to the interagency working group.”

Further, H.R. 6599 also would authorize $50 million for the Department of Energy’s Infectious Disease Research Program over the next two years, and allow that program to coordinate with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to utilize Federal computing resources to respond to infectious diseases.

Rep. Lucas is joined by eight other Republican House members cosponsoring the bill including Reps. Randy Weber, R-Texas, Brian Babin, R-Texas, Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Bill Posey, R-Fla., Pete Olson, R-Texas, Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, Francis Rooney, R-Fla., and Gregory Murphy, R-N.C.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.