Congresswoman Summer Lee Co-leads Introduction of RESEARCHER Act to Curb Financial Insecurity in Higher Education & Improve American Competitiveness

Jun 13, 2023
Press

Congresswoman Summer Lee Co-leads Introduction of RESEARCHER Act to Curb Financial Insecurity in Higher Education & Improve American Competitiveness

Washington, D.C. – Today, Summer Lee (PA-12), along with her colleagues Reps. Jennifer McClellan (VA-04), Yadira Caraveo (CO-08), Al Green (TX-09), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Betty McCollum (MN-04), John Sarbanes (MD-03), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), and Jill Tokuda (HI-02) introduced the Relieving Economic Strain to Enhance American Resilience and Competitiveness in Higher Education and Research (RESEARCHER) Act to address financial instability for graduate and postdoctoral researchers. 

Congresswoman Lee said, “As the home of so many incredible research institutions, Western PA’s future as an innovation hub depends on compensating our graduate and postdoctoral researchers fairly. I’m proud to co-lead the RESEARCHER Act to pave the way for all research workers to be guaranteed the equal pay, dignity, and financial stability they deserve while closing the representation gap that’s costing us the contributions and perspectives of Black, brown, and working class researchers that we so desperately need.” 

“Increased costs of living, low research stipends, and a lack of comprehensive benefits pose serious financial hurdles to our nation’s graduate and postdoctoral researchers, particularly those from low-income families,” said Congresswoman McClellan. “We must address these issues to continue building a robust STEM workforce, fulfill the legislative priorities set forth in the CHIPS and Science Act, and support America’s global economic competitiveness. As the newest member of the 118th Congress, I am proud to introduce the RESEARCHER Act as my first piece of legislation to improve graduate and postdoctoral students’ quality of life and ensure America remains at the forefront of cutting-edge technology and innovation.” 

“The work of graduate and doctoral students drive universities’ academic excellence yet too many face housing and income insecurity. It’s past time we rewarded their economic and scientific contributions by providing a living wage. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the RESEARCHER Act and will continue to work to address the stresses and inequities faced by graduate students and bring attention to the issue of student pay,” said Congressman Grijalva. 

“Many of Washington state’s young researchers are struggling with high costs and low pay,” said Rep. Kilmer. “We need to fix this if we want a strong, diverse group of folks working in science, technology, engineering and math. That’s why I’m proud to help introduce the RESEARCHER Act, to help these students and keep America leading in innovation.”

“In order to continue building the workforce of the future and solve problems through science and innovation, we must address the barriers that prohibit people from pursuing research opportunities,” CongresswomanMcCollum said. “Aspiring researchers—and our society at large—deserve to see their work come to fruition. I’m proud to help introduce the RESEARCHER Actto support graduate and postdoc researchers from all backgrounds continue in their pursuit of knowledge.” 

“Graduate and postdoctoral students are at the forefront of unlocking discoveries vital to U.S. scientific and technological competitiveness,” said Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-03). “Unfortunately, too much of America’s STEM talent is being left behind due to financial barriers and stresses. I am proud to join this legislation to support young researchers, promote a stronger and more diverse STEM workforce, and help position the United States as a leader in the 21st-century innovation economy.”

“Hawai‘i’s universities and research institutions provide some of the best opportunities in the world for cutting-edge scientific research and innovation with practical real-world impacts. Yet the high costs of living here can make it difficult for graduate and postdoctoral researchers to live here,” said Congresswoman Tokuda (HI-02). “Revitalizing our nation’s research enterprise means investing in our students and researchers, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds and historically marginalized communities. By removing the financial barriers that prevent the recruitment and retention of new researchers, we can ensure our nation’s long-term competitiveness and continued global leadership in science and innovation.”

The RESEARCHER Act: 

  • Directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop a set of policy guidelines for federal research agencies to address the financial instability of graduate and postdoctoral researchers. 
  • Requires federal research agencies to develop and implement policies based on OSTP’s guidelines. 
  • Amends the CHIPS and Science Act to supplement data collection on financial instability of graduate and postdoctoral researchers and allows the National Science Foundation to award grants to research this issue. 

The RESEARCHER Act is endorsed by the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, National Postdoctoral Association, National Science Policy Network, and the Association for Women in Science. 

Read the RESEARCHER Act one-pagerbill text, and quotes of support.

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