OR delegation supports more funding for research workforce

May 7, 2020 10:44 am

In a May 4, 2020 letter addressed to United States Senate leadership, Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) were joined by 31 other senators in urging Congress to provide additional support for the U.S. research workforce, which includes graduate students, postdocs, principal investigators, and technical support staff. The bipartisan letter requested a total of $26 billion dollars to be included in the fourth coronavirus stimulus package.

“In the current environment, researchers face myriad problems. Many are unable to make progress on their grants. Researchers who receive federal-grant funding may continue to receive their salaries even though their research has stopped, but many need supplemental funding to support additional salary and lab supplies as they ramp up work again and for the completion of their initial grant work.”

The $26 billion requested would be used to accomplish three goals:

  • Cover supplements for research grants and contracts;
  • Provide emergency relief to sustain research support personnel and base operating costs for core research facilities; and
  • Fund additional graduate student and postdoc fellowships, traineeships, and research assistantships.

The Senate letter comes on the heels of a similar April 29 letter to House leadership initiated by U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) and joined by 178 other members of the House, also requesting support for the U.S. research community.

“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.”

Both of Oregon’s senators signed the Senate letter. Oregon Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, and Suzanne Bonamici signed the House letter.

Major associations of higher education, including the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Association of American Universities (AAU), previously recommended $26 billion to support major research agencies in a letter addressed to both House and Senate leadership on April 7. The UO Government and Community Relations blog covered that request to Congress here.

Read an article covering the May 4 Senate letter here.

Read an article covering the April 29 House letter here.