NBAF’s status in budget uncertain

By Ned Seaton

The federal budget deal reached by congressional leaders does not make clear the status of funding for the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility, congressional sources told The Mercury Wednesday.

Both houses of Congress put $404 million in their budget plans to pay for construction of the big federal lab to be built in Manhattan. But that’s where things stalled. The deal reached Tuesday night by Congressional leaders is an attempt to get a budget approved. But while it would set overall spending numbers, it does not include details about projects such as NBAF, according to Sarah Little and Sean Fitzpatrick, staff members for U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. And of course the deal itself hasn’t even been approved by the full House or Senate.

It’s not clear yet if the deal would mean the federal government would operate on the basis of a “continuing resolution” or on the basis of an “omnibus” spending bill, Little and Fitzpatrick said. Normally, the Congress would approve individual appropriations bills to fund certain departments or programs — but in this case, the budget action is so late that can’t be done.

So then the question becomes whether the money for NBAF would be included in either the “omnibus” spending bill — which is a catch-all for the entire government operation — or the continuing resolution.

Long story short: “‘I don’t know’ is probably the best answer,” Little said.

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