The current House Majority Whip lent his support to efforts to fund the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility Saturday during an appearance in Manhattan.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, toured the NBAF site as well as the Biosecurity Research Institute next door to it with Second District Rep. Lynn Jenkins, in whose district the facility is to be built.
McCarthy made it clear that he sees the facility as important to the nation as well as to the local and Kansas economy.
“(Food safety) is a national security issue, not just a state issue,” he said. Noting that there is no facility in the United States capable of doing the sensitive research that would be done at the NBAF, he called for inclusion of funds to begin construction of the facility in the fiscal 2013 budget.
The Obama administration originally included $60 million for construction of the central utility plant this year. That money, however, has since been pulled from the proposed budget.
House leaders have indicated they will fight for inclusion of the funds, but the matter is more problematical in the Senate. Obama has indicated he supports the idea behind the NBAF, but does not believe the fiscal situation permits beginning construction now. Earlier this year he asked a committee to study whether the facility was still justified in its present size and scope, and that committee is expected to release its findings in June.
McCarthy, who was first elected to Congress in 20006, represents an area of California along the Pacific coast north of metropolitan Los Angeles. He became majority whip following the 2010 midterm elections.