Lucas among bipartisan group seeking $26B to restart U.S. research

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) recently joined a bipartisan contingent of his colleagues to unveil a bill that would authorize a total of $26 billion in federal funding for U.S. researchers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rep. Lucas, on June 24, signed on as an original cosponsor of the Research Investment to Secure the Economy (RISE) Act, H.R. 7308, with several cosponsors, including lead original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO).

“We cannot allow American leadership in #STEM to be compromised in the wake of #COVID19,” Rep. Lucas tweeted on June 26. “I’m proud to have introduced the #RISEAct with my friends… to ensure our research enterprise is wholly supported.”

If enacted, H.R. 7308 would authorize appropriations for offsetting the costs related to reductions in research productivity resulting from the pandemic, according to the text of the bill.

The emergency relief funds would go to federal science agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation, among others, to make awards to research universities, independent institutions and national laboratories that would use the funds to continue working on federally funded research projects.

“These researchers are essential to our nation’s public health, national security, economic growth, and international competitiveness,” Rep. Lucas and his colleagues said in a joint statement. “Preserving our scientific infrastructure and protecting our innovation pipeline will help ensure U.S. leadership in the world and help us better respond to future pandemics.”

H.R. 7308 also would allow certain federal agencies to award research grants and cooperative agreements to colleges or universities to conduct research on the behavioral, social, or economic effects of COVID-19 and the responses to the disease, as well as the effectiveness of such responses, according to Rep. Lucas’ office.

The measure has been referred for consideration to several committees in the U.S. House of Representatives.