Garcia, Science Committee members introduce STEM legislation

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Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, and other members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee have introduced bipartisan legislation that would form a new postdoctoral fellowship program for researchers unable to continue their work at universities due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Supporting Early Career Researchers Act would create a two-year pilot program “to award grants to highly qualified early-career investigators to carry out an independent research program at the institution of higher education chosen by such investigator, to last for a period not greater than two years,” according to the bill. 

The program would be established at the National Science Foundation with the goal of preventing the loss of research talent due to job market disruptions caused by any economic decline during and after the pandemic. 

“During these unusual times, it is critically important that we ensure that all efforts and avenues are being made available to the next generation of ground-breaking researchers so that we do not fall drastically behind other foreign powers,” Garcia said in a prepared statement. 

“Even in normal times, postdoctoral research positions provide little job security, with most postdocs employed on two-year contracts,” Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, said in a statement. “The (bill) would provide a much-needed bridge to help early career researchers weather this storm and prevent a permanent loss of STEM talent our nation can ill afford.”

A total of $250 million for each fiscal year, 2021-2022, would be appropriated to the foundation to carry out the activities in the legislation, according to the proposal. 

The bill was introduced in the Science, Space and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over all energy research, development and projects. 

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