Group urges GSA to develop bioterror lab

A group of government representatives has urged the General Services Administration to use a large portion of its $82 million construction budget to develop an FDA lab geared toward stopping bioterror threats.

U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Congressman Chris Van Hollen have joined together to urge the GSA to use as much of the money as possible to continue the consolidation of the Food and Drug Administration at White Oak in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland.

The Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2011 reduces GSA construction project funding and gives no designated funding to the FDA’s White Oak facility. With limited funding, the FDA will have difficulty establishing a fully functioning laboratory capability in its life sciences biodefense cluster for the testing, development and licensing of vaccines to protect the public against bioterrorism threats.

The House members and senators wrote to Martha Johnson, the administrator of the GSA, outlining possible harm to public safety and economy that could occur as a result of insufficient funding for White Oak.

In addition, the government representatives said that steady funding is necessary to preserve existing construction jobs and to create more than 9,000 permanent employees in the complex later on the project.