TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) President Barack Obama is recommending no additional funding in the next federal budget for construction of a new biosecurity lab in Kansas.
The budget released Monday raises questions about the future of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility under construction in Manhattan near Kansas State University. The project is estimated to cost $650 million to complete and would replace an aging facility at Plum Island, N.Y.
The administration requested $150 million in the current year, of which only $50 million was appropriated by Congress, which the White House says is insufficient to begin construction.
Obama is asking the Department of Homeland Security to reevaluate the
project, while spending $10 million to increase the amount of research being done at Kansas State’s Biosecurity Research Institute.
“An exercise in futility” is the way the Kansas Congressional delegation and Governor Sam Brownback are describing President Obama’s budget, which fails to provide vital resources for the construction of the national Bio and agro defense facility in Manhattan. Even the Senate Democratic majority leader has reportedly said the Senate will not even consider the President’s budget.
First District Congressman Tim Huelskamp, who was visiting Manhattan Monday to visit the construction site, spoke briefly with Cathy Dawes on the move. That conversation is included above.
Meanwhile, officials with Kansas State University are admitting there is some concern.
“We’ve gotten a number of questions from people concerned,” Jeffery Morris, Vice President for Communications and Marketing, told KMAN News. “We basically have something that makes for a good headline, but we’re very early in the budgeting process. The president issues his budget, then there’s going to be a lot of wrangling over the next few months as the budget process works its course.”
Morris says there’s no reason yet to be terribly concerned, as they have heard there is still money for NBAF. He urges people to not panic and says the Kansas Congressional delegation has been supportive of the project and will continue to work diligently in Washington, D.C.
The full conversation with Morris may be heard below.