NBAF funding cut from bill

Even though funding was stripped from an appropriations bill, members of the Kansas congressional delegation on Thursday remained confident that a proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility would still be built in Manhattan.

Wednesday night, the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a 7 percent increase to the Department of Homeland Security’s budget. The bill strengthens efforts to thwart bringing Guantanamo detainees into the United States. It also funds more border patrol agents.

“The House Appropriations Committee had a responsibility to fund the NBAF, and I am extremely disappointed they shirked that responsibility,” said Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan.

Jenkins was the only member of the Kansas delegation to vote against the entire spending bill because it did not include $36 million in construction funding for the $450 million National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility at Kansas State University.

Among fierce competition from other states, federal officials chose Kansas earlier this year as the site for the new lab. The department still must secure funding for the facility.

Reps. Todd Tiahrt, Jerry Moran and Dennis Moore all supported the broad Homeland Security budget bill — without NBAF funding. But the money still is in a Senate version of the bill.

Tiahrt said House committee members withheld the funding because of worries that the lab could release foot and mouth disease into the state’s livestock population.

“These and any other concerns will soon be fully addressed following the release of another threat assessment currently under way,” Tiahrt said in a statement. “I look forward to working with our Kansas senators and House colleagues to resolve this funding issue in coming months.”