On June 24 a bi-partisan group of members of the House sponsored HR 7308, the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act. The bill authorizes approximately $26 billion in emergency appropriations and would provide critical research relief to university researchers who have been impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The legislation, if enacted, would allow federal agencies to fund cost extensions to research grants, permitting graduate students, postdocs, principal investigators, technical support staff and other research personnel to continue to receive salary support while research activities have been slowed or halted.
U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) was among the first ten members of the House to co-sponsor the bill. Other sponsors include Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Rep. Frank Lucas (R-O), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH). A drive is on to collect enough co-sponsors that the bill could be placed on the consent calendar.
More than 250 higher education, research, industry groups and associations have endorsed the RISE Act, including the University of Oregon. In a letter to the Senate leadership, the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and the American Council on Education (ACE), wrote, “Scientists have been doing what they can to move projects forward remotely, but with many researchers unable to work in their labs and fields during the pandemic, emergency relief funds are urgently needed at the federal research agencies to extend the duration of research projects and ensure the objectives of these federal research investments that have already been made are met.”