Three members of the Kansas Congressional delegation were in Manhattan, Kan., Friday to see the first stage of construction on the $1.2 billion federal animal disease lab known as NBAF, or the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.
Joining Senators Jerry Moran, Pat Roberts and Congressman Tim Huelskamp was Dr. Reginald Brothers. Brothers will oversee the facility as an undersecretary with the federal Department of Homeland Security.
Talking to reporters after the tour, Brothers said he was happy with what he saw.
"It's impressive," Brothers said. "As I understand it, all the design standards are beyond what was recommended by the National Academies (of Science)."
In the shadow of the half-finished utility plant that will provide power to the lab, Sen. Jerry Moran said the delegation had learned some good news.
“What has been confirmed today (is) that if we can get that final appropriation confirmed by March, this project will remain on schedule,” he said.
The cost of the top-security bio-containment lab has mushroomed from just over $400 million to a $1.25 billion.
The House and Senate have approved the last $300 million that will wrap up federal funding for the project, but the final 2015 budget bill has yet to be passed by Congress.
Sen. Pat Roberts was among those reassuring reporters that the funding would come through. But Roberts knows how political budget battles are. In a statement of protest over excessive government spending last year, Roberts voted against the budget bill that contained funding for his pet project, NBAF.