March 12, 2020

The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson
Chairwoman, House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology
2321 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Frank Lucas
Ranking Member, House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology
2321 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairwoman Johnson and Ranking Member Lucas:

On behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), thank you for your leadership on behalf of science and to ensure our nation has the scientific capacity to inform and respond to significant public emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

As Congress considers responses to the economic costs associated with COVID-19, we request that the Committee work to ensure that any economic recovery and resilience measures address the needs of non-profit scientific societies and organizations, particularly the professional societies and research institutions that are suffering significant economic impacts from cancelled scientific conferences, workshops, and other meetings. For many professional associations/scientific societies, annual meetings, and regional and topical conferences are primary ways that scientists share information. These meetings are also core revenue sources that sustain the work of these non-profit organizations. Scientific societies have been at the forefront of the public response to COVID-19. Often, cancelling programs to reduce exposure risks prior to any request or directive from government and public health officials.

In addition to non-profit scientific societies, natural history museums, botanical gardens, and other research institutions with large public serving programs are experiencing economic losses as they reduce, postpone, and cancel public programs, including formal and informal science education programs. Most of these institutions are non-profits and operate with budgets with limited capacity to absorb revenue losses resulting from reduced public visitation.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a non-profit scientific organization that promotes informed decision-making that advances the biological sciences for the benefit of science and society. Our members include professional societies, research centers, natural history museums, and other scientific and educational organizations representing the breadth of the biological sciences.

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me at rgropp@aibs.org or (202) 628-1500 x 250 if AIBS or our members may be of assistance to you on this or any other matter.

Sincerely,

Robert Gropp, Ph.D.
Executive Director

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