President Barack Obama recommended Monday that no additional funding be allocated for construction of a new biosecurity lab in Kansas to replace the Plum Island facility, and said the Department of Homeland Security will reassess the project's viability, according to a report in Monday’s edition of the Long Island (NY) Press.
The proposal, included in Obama's federal spending plan, raised doubts about the future of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility under construction in Manhattan, near Kansas State University. The project would cost an estimated $650 million and would replace an aging facility at Plum Island. Workers have cleared the Kansas site.
Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas' congressional delegation issued a statement saying further review of merits of the facility is needless and “a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
“This change of direction is unacceptable and will leave our country vulnerable,” the statement said. “Kansas has won every competition, met every standard and proven its commitment to this project, and we'll do whatever it takes to fulfill this critical national security need.”
Congress appropriated only $50 million of the $150 million the Obama administration requested for the lab in the current budget year, which the White House said was insufficient to begin construction.