More than 30 senators from both parties penned a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., requesting $26 billion in funding for researchers in the next COVID-19 coronavirus stimulus package.
Led by Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., the May 4 letter details the need to help researchers not working on COVID-19 projects. The senators wrote that some researchers have had to shut down their labs, donate personal protective equipment, and cancel planned experiments because of the pandemic, incurring significant costs.
“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,” the letter states.
The $26 billion in new funding for researchers would go toward covering cost extensions for research grants and contracts, emergency relief to pay research support personnel and operating costs, and research opportunities for graduate and post-doctorate students over the next two years. Services disrupted by the pandemic would receive funding priority, including graduate students that could not finish their degrees because of the pandemic.
The senators argue that supporting the research communities will help stimulate the U.S. economy in the near term by keeping these individuals employed, as academies and labs are major employers nationwide. “In the long term,” the letter continued, “these researchers are essential to protecting our nation’s public health, national security, economic growth, and international competitiveness.”