President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal to Congress asks for funds to “develop countermeasures for diseases originating from large animals that can be transmitted to humans, " including $714 million for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas.
The news has already been interpreted by supporters as a green light for the $1.15-billion federal animal disease lab known as NBAF, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, in Manhattan, Kansas.
Senator Pat Roberts said the proposal represents the administration’s support for NBAF.
“I am glad the President agrees that spending on national security by protecting plant and animal health is a priority for the federal government, whose first responsibility is to protect its citizens,” Roberts said. “The real work begins as we continue to fight to ensure this $714 million in funding is appropriated to advance construction of the NBAF in Manhattan and achieve this critical national security goal.”
Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins also weighed in with praise.
So did Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who issued the following statement ; "I appreciate President Obama's recommendation to invest more that $700 million for the completion of the NBAF" Brownback said.
He went on to explain that the President's recommendation comes with a corollary for Kansas taxpayers. "The President is requesting the state invest another $202 million of matching state funds" Brownback said.
It's too early to draw conclusions about whether the $714 million dollars the President requested will mean the NBAF gets built, or built according to its original plan.
Budget constraints and contentious relations in Congress cast a dark shadow over the NBAF request. The Department of Homeland Security itself has articulated competing funding priorities. And ranchers, activists, and some in Congress still question the lab's security and necessity.
The proposed NBAF will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, with is almost 60 years old.