Go back

US news roundup: 25-31 March


This week: EPA staff shortages, professors protest legislation and Covid-19 spurs record US R&D spending

In depth: President Joe Biden has released his request to Congress for United States government spending in 2023, including eye-catching increases for R&D initiatives.

Full story: Biden doubles down on R&D priorities for 2023 budget

Also this week from Research Professional News

International insecurity—How should researchers react to the end of the Department of Justice’s China Initiative?

US foundation provides millions of dollars for Ukrainian research—Breakthrough Prize Foundation channels $2.5m for Ukraine through European and US academies

Here is the rest of the US news this week…

Concern about EPA staffing levels

A group representing US government environmental scientists has said the 2022 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency has “hamstrung” the agency’s ability to perform chemical safety reviews. Concerns are focused on staff shortages—the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said the budget provides for only 25 scientists, representing less than 7 per cent of the required workforce. In a statement provided to Research Professional News, EPA said its chemical safety programme “has been and remains underfunded”, citing years of flat budgets under the administration of former US president Donald Trump.

Professors group protests ‘racist’ teaching legislation

A group representing US professors has criticised state legislators for efforts to put restrictions on teaching about antisemitism and the history of racism in the United States, arguing that such efforts threaten academic freedom. In a statement, a committee of the American Association of University Professors said that conservative politicians have “justified restrictive legislation under the guise of protecting students from harm”. They objected to legislators’ efforts to class political criticism of Israel as antisemitism and to class critical analysis of the history of slavery as racially discriminatory against white people.

US spent 14 per cent of 2020 R&D funds on Covid

The US government spent more than $23 billion on Covid-19 R&D in 2020, which was 14 per cent of its total R&D spending for the year, according to statistics published by the National Science Foundation. The spending on Covid-19, which was largely channelled through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for public-private partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry, boosted US R&D spending to $167bn in 2020, an 18 per cent rise on 2019. The uplift was the largest increase since 1963, when the US was in the midst of the space race.