weekly letter

Dear Research Advocate, Earlier this week, Congress passed a long-awaited legislative package containing FY21 funding and COVID-19 emergency dollars. However, President Trump has publicly criticized the bill and of this writing, it’s unclear whether he will sign it or seek changes. The current Continuing Resolution keeping the federal government open expires on December 28, 2020. Needless to say, we are closely monitoring the situation. Let’s look at the bill Congress approved: For FY21, it contains increases over the prior year of over $1 billion for NIH, $200 million for NSF, $125 million for the CDC, and $42 million for the FDA. Unfortunately, the Agency for Healthcare Research and...
Dear Research Advocate, Even as the death toll rises and hospitals are overwhelmed, we can feel optimistic as the first COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized by the FDA is being delivered into the arms of Americans. Some recipients have cried in relief and gratitude. I like thinking about this vaccine metaphorically as a “double shot” – to protect against COVID-19 and as a booster shot in the arm for science. The vaccine truly brings home the value of science. Leading at the FDA : Science has delivered and so has the FDA. We hosted Dr. Peter Marks, the director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) on Monday to discuss the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the...
Dear Research Advocate, Last days of 2020 : The deadline for finalizing FY21 legislation and for a supplemental spending bill will almost certainly be delayed until December 18. Delays like these are difficult to countenance. However, the important point is Congress and the White House are now trying to complete FY21 appropriations and the supplemental when they could instead abdicate by passing a long-term CR and – literally for some and figuratively for others – just call it quits. Advocates can’t call it quits either. While two major points of contention reportedly remain – liability protections for business and state and local funding support – there is no way to know for certain what...
Dear Research Advocate, Lame-Duck Session : Congressional lame-duck sessions can be busy, and the current one is no exception. The appropriations front remains quite fluid – while there were some signs that lawmakers would be able to move an FY21 omnibus funding package before the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on December 11, we are once again hearing that another short term CR may be necessary. Meanwhile, after weeks of inaction, there has been movement on the COVID-19 supplemental front. A group of bipartisan lawmakers this week released a $908 billion relief proposal as the basis for renewed negotiations. Will FY21 appropriations and the supplemental finally move forward?...
Dear Research Advocate, This Thanksgiving will be challenging – there is no way around it – but giving thanks right now is especially appropriate. Medical and public health personnel, academic and industry researchers, and a plethora of other COVID-19 responders have put the interests of the public ahead of their own, working in high-risk settings, 24-7, to navigate an end to this brutal pandemic. And end it, we will. To help speed the day, elected officials must do their part. Unfinished Business: Unfortunately, we cannot yet thank federal policymakers for meeting two COVID-19-related imperatives: completing the FY21 appropriations process to unstick government functions basic to the...
Dear Research Advocate, Appreciation : As we approach Thanksgiving, please consider two opportunities to recognize public health heroes. #PHTYD : Taking a moment to participate in Public Health Thank You Day is a quick way to express thanks to members of the public health workforce. Always held on the Monday before Thanksgiving, PHTYD carries special meaning this year as the public health community faces down a dramatic escalation in the pandemic. Visit and share the PHTYD link for tools you can use to make Monday a true day of appreciation for public health heroes. Call for Nominations : Speaking of heroes, nominations are open for four Excellence in Achievement in Public Health awards, a...
Dear Research Advocate, Earlier this week, we held our Post-Election Briefing with a terrific panel featuring national public health leader Dr. Georges Benjamin, award-winning journalist Frank Sesno, and Capitol Hill veterans Cybele Bjorklund and Pete Kirkham. Through the lens of science and public health, we discussed the election results, the lame duck Congress, the upcoming 117th Congress, and a future Biden Administration. What surprised the panelists the most about the election: the high levels of voter participation despite the pandemic. Another area of consensus: the election results provide a crucial opportunity to elevate science and to rebuild our public health infrastructure ,...
Dear Research Advocate, The election is yet another way 2020 is testing us like no other year. Let’s pull through by pulling together and putting science to work as never before. The key question for us all, advocates of faster scientific, medical, and public health progress: What can we do today to advance that progress? Gather evidence and speak out . If R&D stakeholders want the next emergency package to include supplemental funding for stalled or reprogrammed research, we need to act now. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he would like to move a supplemental by the end of the year. Not only is funding needed for federal grants, but COVID has decimated grant...
Dear Research Advocate, COVID-19 : With the alarming escalation in infections and hospitals running out of beds due to the pandemic, it’s timely to stress to policymakers (and those who wish to be) that the American people want action now to improve our public health system. Today we published additional results from our recently-commissioned survey on behalf of a working group formed to address our nation’s commitment to science showing that strong majorities across the political spectrum see improving our public health system as an urgent priority . Science Strong : Please take a moment before November 3 to make the worst week of the pandemic the week every candidate connects the dots...
Dear Research Advocate, Deal or No Deal? : House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue to talk in hopes of clinching a bipartisan agreement on an emergency supplemental. Earlier this week, Research!America sent a letter urging them not to abandon their efforts and to include, in any agreement reached, at least $26 billion to supplement pandemic-eroded research funding. We also tweeted them (you can too!). You can also email your Members of Congress, urging them to voice support for this funding. Advocacy can’t stop now! Immigration Actions Impacting R&D : The Trump Administration, through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has issued proposed...

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Abraham Lincoln