Obama’s budget strips funding for Kansas biofacility

Sam Brownback

A spending plan from President Barack Obama recommended that no additional funding be given to the construction of a new biosecurity lab in Manhattan, Kansas, upsetting officials in the nation’s heartland.

The spending plan said that the Department of Homeland Security would reassess the viability of the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility that would cost an estimated $650 million. Workers had already cleared the site and the state has committed to authorizing as much as $105 million in bonds to aid with the project, the Associated Press reports.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and a state congressional delegation of Republicans issued a statement promising to overcome the recommendation.

“This change of direction is unacceptable and will leave our country vulnerable,” the statement said, according to the Associated Press. “Kansas has won every competition, met every standard and proven its commitment to this project, and we’ll do whatever it takes to fulfill this critical national security need.”

Congress appropriated $50 million of the $150 million the Obama administration requested for the lab in the current budget year. The White House said that the amount was not sufficient enough to begin construction.

“In light of this, the administration will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the project in 2012, which will consider the cost, safety and any alternatives to the current plan that would reduce costs and ensure safety,” the budget document said, according to the Associated Press.

While the budget plan showed some votes of confidence for Kansas researchers, such as a $10 million increase to the amount of research done at Kansas State’s Biosecurity Research Institute, the proposal is a major blow to the state of Kansas.

“Hopefully this not the final answer,” Paul Davis, the Kansas House Minority Leader, said, according to the Associated Press. “Given the constraints that the federal government is now operating under, projects like NBAF are going to be in a real uphill battle. The need for NBAF hasn’t changed at all.”

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