Congressman Tim Bishop was thwarted Friday in his attempt to halt funding for a new National Bio-and-Agro Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas to replace the laboratory that is currently housed on Plum Island.
Mr. Bishop introduced an amendment Friday night to bar funding for the lab in this fiscal year, just days after President Barack Obama released a 2012 budget that includes $150 million for the construction of the new laboratory in Kansas.
A press release issued by Mr. Bishop’s office late Friday said that the amendment failed “largely along party lines, ” though the official tally was not immediately available in House records or from Mr. Bishop’s office Saturday morning.
Mr. Bishop said in the release that “before approving funding for NBAF, my colleagues wanted to know if it was safe to study the worst animal diseases in the heart of cattle country. We have our answer: there are too many risks — with consequences too great — to justify the costs of construction at this time, and I will keep up the fight.”
But on the floor of the House last night, Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, a Republican whose district would include the new facility, asked her colleagues to support the project, which is estimated by various sources to cost between $650 million and $1 billion by the time it is completed.
“Simply put, this debate should be about our national security, not local politics,” she said. “In this age of uncertainty and global
threats, conducting vital research to protect our nation could not be more crucial. And the truth of the matter is we are dangerously under-protected from the threat of a biological attack against our people and our food.”
Plum Island, which currently conducts most of the nation’s agro-defense research, is only a biosafety level 3 facility, while the
new lab is slated to be a safer, biosafety level 4 facility. The federal government is planning to sell Plum Island to offset the cost
of the new lab.
Mr. Bishop vowed Friday to continue to try to stop funding for the facility in Kansas.
“Given our nation’s mounting budget deficits, we should not invest one more dollar of taxpayer money–and up to $1 billion–to create a massive new research facility that would duplicate many of the functions currently served well by other existing facilities, including Plum Island,” Bishop said.
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