TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — President Barack Obama is proposing Congress provide another infusion of cash to continue construction of a new biosecurity lab in Kansas.
The president’s budget was announced Tuesday and includes $300 million for the Department of Homeland Security to continue work on the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility under construction near Kansas State University.
The $1.25 billion new lab is designed to conduct research on large animals and related diseases, replacing an aging facility at Plum Island, N.Y.
Members of the Kansas congressional delegation issued a statement praising the funding recommendation, which they said would allow the lab to be built within budget.
The proposal will be addressed in the coming months by House and Senate appropriations committees before it is approved.
“This gives Congress a blueprint to provide the final portion of funding to advance construction of the modern, world-class NBAF facility so it can protect the national security of the United States,” the delegation said in a statement. “We will continue to work to make certain NBAF remains a top priority for Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle as we work to secure the final portion of funding for construction of NBAF during the appropriations process.”
Construction began in 2013 on a central utility plant that will provide power and other services for the lab. DHS says construction on the main lab is expected to begin sometime this year, though no date has been announced for the start of operations.
Kansas legislators have approved more than $300 million in bonding that represents the state’s share of the cost for construction of the project. State officials have long touted the new lab as a key component of the nation’s biosecurity network to protect the food supply from deadly diseases and viruses that could be unleashed on livestock.
Gov. Sam Brownback said “years of hard, bipartisan work” were paying off with the latest funding announcement.
“Kansas will be the center of the animal health industry, playing a critical role for our nation and the world,” he said Tuesday.
The lab will be built adjacent to the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State, where research into animal and plant threats is conducted. The Manhattan site is considered the western anchor of an animal health corridor that stretches east to Columbia, Mo., and includes many of the world’s leading agriculture-related companies.
The lab is expected to have 250 to 350 employees and draw increased business activity to boost the Kansas economy.