House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas has introduced legislation to support the scientific community’s ability to fight the novel coronavirus and other infectious diseases.
H.R. 6599, the Computing Opportunities to Vanquish Infectious Diseases Research Act of 2020 (the COVID Research Act) authorizes critical work being done by the federal research enterprise to successfully combat infectious diseases like COVID-19.
“One of the most valuable things we in Congress can do in the fight against COVID-19 is give our federal scientific agencies the resources needed to provide an immediate response and to better prepare us for future disease outbreaks,” Lucas said. “Our National Labs have already shown the value of using high-performance supercomputing and advanced research facilities to model the novel coronavirus, understand its effects on human cells, and predict its spread. The federal research community is doing great work and using their considerable talents to fight this pandemic and address the many challenges it has caused. The COVID Research Act authorizes a strategic and coordinated approach so our scientists and researchers have the resources they need to succeed.”
The COVID Research Act authorizes the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) interagency working group on Emerging Infectious Disease Prediction and Forecasting and directs this group to develop a national strategy to address infectious diseases. It also authorizes the National Academies of Science Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Disease and 21st Century Health Threats as a standing advisory committee of experts to provide scientific advice to the interagency working group.
The legislation contains a number of provisions to support the research being done at the Department of Energy. It authorizes $50 million for DOE’s Infectious Disease Research Program over the next two years. It also gives this research program, in coordination with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA to utilize the federal government’s computing resources to respond to infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Finally, it supports a public-private high-performance computing consortium to address infectious diseases.
The bill’s original cosponsors include Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS), Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), and Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC).