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US news roundup: 14-20 January


This week: pandemic preparedness, foreign interference and the “gutting” of a Nasa bill

In depth: A milestone biennial study has warned that the R&D system in the United States must be reinforced in light of increasing global competition, in particular from China.

Full story: US research system needs strengthening, study finds

Here is the rest of the US news this week…

Bipartisan bid to strengthen NIH role in pandemic preparedness 

Two bipartisan senators have tabled a bill to give the National Institutes of Health more power and responsibility to tackle future pandemics through increased collaboration with other research organisations. If passed, the bill from Republican ranking member of the Senate committee on health, Richard Burr, and Democrat senator John Hickenlooper would direct the NIH to establish academic research programmes focused on finding and developing treatments, and would aim to better coordinate research with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. “Covid-19 won’t be the last pandemic, but we can’t be caught off-guard again,” said Hickenlooper. “Pandemic preparedness is possible, affordable, and irresponsible to ignore.”

Bills for tackling foreign influence in R&D tabled by House Republicans

Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced seven bills “to combat and stop influence from the Chinese Communist Party in American medical research”. The bills from members of the Energy and Commerce Committee would increase transparency, improve oversight and protect biomedical intellectual property, the committee Republicans said. “To win the future, America must secure our biomedical research from foreign competitors, especially the Chinese Communist Party,” said Energy and Commerce Republican leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Health Subcommittee Republican leader Brett Guthrie.

Republicans cry foul over gutting of Nasa bill

Leading Republicans in House committees have blasted Democrats for “gutting” a “a simple three-page bill” intended to give Nasa more powers to lease out unused equipment and save taxpayer money, and for replacing the original text with legislation related to state elections. “The majority has taken a practical, bipartisan bill and gutted it, inserting 735 pages of unrelated legislation and forcing the House to vote on it barely 12 hours after the text was released,” House Science, Space, and Technology Committee ranking member Frank Lucas stormed. “I am outraged because the Democrats have made a mockery of bipartisan collaboration for cheap political gain,” said Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee ranking member Brian Babin.