ACS joins coalition to request COVID aid for NSF

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January 27, 2021

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Senate Democratic Leader
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
1236 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Senate Republican Leader
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
House Republican Leader
2468 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515 

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leaders Schumer, McConnell and McCarthy:

As Congress develops additional legislation to implement the “American Rescue Plan” and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coalition for National Science Funding asks that you address the challenges faced by the scientific research community, specifically the need to restore the research enterprise and safeguard our nation’s research workforce. We encourage Congress to include $3 billion in emergency relief for the National Science Foundation (NSF) while providing relief to all federal science agencies.

NSF is the premier agency to address social and behavioral science, education, engineering, modeling, and fundamental biological challenges raised by the pandemic. Thanks to your leadership, Congress appropriated $76 million in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for the NSF to support its response to COVID-19, including through the Rapid Response Research (RAPID) and Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) funding mechanisms. As part of efforts to improve understanding of the virus, develop predictions of its spread, and help mitigate its impacts on public health, society, and the economy, NSF awarded more than 1300 grants, including more than 500 quick-response RAPIDs, to researchers across the country, demonstrating NSF’s role as a frontline agency in our nation’s push to respond to and recover from the pandemic. However, these grants only scratched the surface of research needs.

Though our nation’s scientists and research institutions have risen to the challenge of the pandemic, they are facing enormous strains on their operations and infrastructure. NSF needs additional funding to support research grants, students and post-docs, early-career faculty, and scientific facilities. Federally funded scientists and engineers are experiencing significant negative impacts to their work during the pandemic, such as delays or cessation of their research projects, an extremely challenging academic and research job market, lab closures, and uncertainty about continuing to pay salaries, extend timelines, access needed lab equipment, and more. These impacts have disproportionately affected students, trainees, and early-career researchers, who make up an important segment of NSF award recipients. Without emergency relief, we risk many early-career researchers and STEM students leaving science altogether, losing a generation of diverse talent that is the bedrock of our national competitiveness. We would also lose the return on the investments that we have already made in the careers of U.S. scientists and engineers, the research they advance, and the research infrastructure that supports them.

Last fall, the House-revised Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) legislation included $2.9 billion for NSF, largely directed toward “extensions of existing research grants, cooperative agreements, scholarships, fellowships, and apprenticeships.” Though this provision did not advance in the final relief package, we encourage you to include it in the rescue package now being drafted. NSF must be able to support its researchers at this critical time and avoid the potential loss of critical innovations and our future workforce.

We appreciate your leadership during this difficult time as Congress continues to respond to the wide-ranging fallout from this pandemic. Thank you for your attention to this request.


The Coalition for National Science Funding


U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations