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Bullet policy · Mar 15, 2021

Research Provisions in the Pandemic Relief Legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 220-211, along party lines, to approve the American Rescue Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319) on March 10, 2021. The Senate had earlier passed the bill on a 50-49 vote, also along party lines. President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion measure into law on March 11.

In addition to another round of direct payments; extensions for unemployment benefits; state and local government aid; $60 billion for vaccine and treatment development, manufacturing, distribution, and tracking; and $40 billion for higher education institutions, the legislation includes the following provisions for research:

  • $600 million for the National Science Foundation to support research on pandemic-related topics, to extend support for existing grants and fellowships, and to train the next generation of scientists and engineers.
  • $150 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to support pandemic-related research through its existing Manufacturing USA institutes.
  • $95 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including $20 million for wildlife inspections, $30 million for care of captive endangered species, and $45 million for “research and extension activities to strengthen early detection, rapid response, and science-based management to address wildlife disease outbreaks before they become pandemics and strengthen capacity for wildlife health monitoring to enhance early detection of diseases that have capacity to jump the species barrier and pose a risk in the United States, including the development of a national wildlife disease database.”
  • $1.75 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advanced Molecular Detection program for efforts to sequence and track variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A coalition of scientific, academic, and medical stakeholder groups, including AIBS, have expressed support for this provision.
  • $100 million for the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences for research on the pandemic’s impacts on student learning.

The legislation did not include the $25 billion in emergency supplemental funding for federal research agencies requested by the science community.