Obama Seeks ‘Final’ Funds to Build Kansas Biodefense Site

Emergency personnel treat a mock victim during a 2012 bioterrorism drill in New York City. The U.S. Homeland Security Department this week asked Congress for $300 million in additional funds to finish building a biodefense facility in Kansas.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
March 6, 2014, 9:29 a.m.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion this week asked Con­gress for a $300 mil­lion “fi­nal” ap­pro­pri­ation to con­struct a new biode­fense labor­at­ory in Kan­sas.

The money is the last that of­fi­cials would need to fin­ish build­ing the Na­tion­al Bio and Agro-De­fense Fa­cil­ity in Man­hat­tan, Kan., the U.S. Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment said in its budget re­quest for fisc­al 2015. Work began last May on the planned com­plex, which would as­sume an­im­al-dis­ease re­search du­ties now as­signed to the aging Plum Is­land An­im­al Dis­ease Cen­ter in New York.

The NBAF pro­ject re­ceived $404 mil­lion for the cur­rent budget cycle, a sig­ni­fic­ant boost from pri­or years as it moved from its plan­ning phase in­to con­struc­tion. However, the amount still fell sev­er­al hun­dred mil­lion dol­lars short of Pres­id­ent Obama’s re­quest for the cur­rent fisc­al year.

Kan­sas law­makers this week is­sued a joint state­ment wel­com­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fund­ing pro­pos­al, and pledging to seek the “fi­nal por­tion of fund­ing for con­struc­tion of [the biode­fense fa­cil­ity] dur­ing the ap­pro­pri­ations pro­cess.”

The un­fin­ished site would in­clude the first “state-of-the-art” labor­at­ory space ded­ic­ated to study­ing the most dan­ger­ous known patho­gens cap­able of leap­ing between non­hu­man spe­cies and people, the Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment noted in its “budget-in-brief” doc­u­ment. Such “Biosafety Level 4” fa­cil­it­ies are au­thor­ized to deal with fatal, air-trans­miss­ible dis­ease agents that have no known cure.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion sep­ar­ately re­ques­ted $84.7 mil­lion for the Biowatch net­work of bio­lo­gic­al-weapon agent sensors, a de­crease from the fisc­al 2014 en­acted level of $85.2 mil­lion.

The Biowatch sys­tem has cost more than $1 bil­lion to de­ploy and main­tain in more than 30 U.S. cit­ies over the last dec­ade, and a num­ber of law­makers have ques­tioned a push by Obama of­fi­cials to stand up a new gen­er­a­tion of self-op­er­at­ing sensors ex­pec­ted to cost sev­er­al times more.

What We're Following See More »
JOINS BUSHES, MCCAIN
Romney to Skip Convention
15 minutes ago
THE LATEST

An aide to Mitt Romney confirmed to the Washington Post that the 2102 GOP nominee will not attend the Republican convention this year. He joins the two living Republican presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, as well as 2008 nominee John McCain in skipping the event. Even among living Republican nominees, that leaves only Bob Dole who could conceivably show up. Dole did say in January that he'd prefer Trump to Ted Cruz, but his age (92) could keep him from attending.

Source:
CALIFORNIA MAKES IT 21
FDA to Ban All Tobacco Sales to Minors
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a long-awaiting new rule, the Food and Drug Administration will ban sale of all tobacco products—including e-cigarettes—to those under 18. The rule takes effect in 90 days. It's part of a larger package of regulations that "gives FDA authority to regulate—but not to ban—all tobacco products, from e-cigarettes to cigars and hookahs." Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill on Wednesday that would bump the legal age to buy all tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Source:
#NEVERTRUMP
Sen. Sasse Calls for a Third Candidate
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Sen. Ben Sasse, the most prominent elected official to declare that he's #NeverTrump, wrote an open letter on Facebook to the "majority of Americans who wonder why the nation that put a man on the moon can’t find a healthy leader who can take us forward together." Calling to mind recent conversations at a Fremont, Neb., Walmart, the senator pitted the presumptive general election battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as such a "terrible choice" that there would be an appetite for another candidate to emerge. In a parenthetical aside to reporters, Sasse ruled himself out. "Such a leader should be able to campaign 24/7 for the next six months," he wrote. "Therefore he/she likely can’t be an engaged parent with little kids." Meanwhile, his colleague Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admitted in a private recording obtained by Politico that Trump hurts his reelection chances.

Source:
UTAH REPUBLICAN
Former Sen. Bob Bennett Dies at 82
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Former Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Bennett was defeated in a primary in 2010 by Tea Party–backed Mike Lee.

Source:
CLINTON HERSELF COULD TESTIFY LATER
Judge Approves Deposition of Clinton Aides
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, approved a joint proposal presented by Judicial Watch and the State Department to take the depositions of officials" involved in the setup and use of Hillary Clinton's private email server, "including Cheryl D. Mills, Clinton's former chief of staff, Huma Abedin, a senior adviser to Clinton, and Bryan Pagliano, a State Department employee who serviced and maintained the server." He said Clinton could be deposed later on, though that may not be necessary.

Source:
×