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Obama threatens to pull NBAF funds

By The Mercury

President Barack Obama has threatened to veto an appropriations bill that includes money for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF).

A statement of administration policy on the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act said Obama’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill and “any other legislation that implements the House Republican Budget framework” if overall spending limits are not addressed.

The bill includes $404 million for the $1.23 billion NBAF project, which is to be built in Manhattan. Obama has requested $714 million overall for the project in his proposed fiscal year 2014 budget.

Administration objections appear to primarily focus on the bill’s overall spending levels. But the statement said the administration also objects to incremental funding of the NBAF project, which it describes as “a national asset critical to the protection of the nation’s food supply.”

The biosafety level 4 facility is slated to replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center as the nation’s lead facility for large animal research, which includes work with infectious diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease.

“The partial funding provided in the bill will delay construction of NBAF, increase project costs, and leave a significant vulnerability unaddressed,” the statement said. “Long-standing procurement policy prohibits incremental funding because it undermines program stability and runs counter to sound budgeting principles and fiscal discipline.”

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican who represents the state’s Second District, expressed confidence in a statement that the funding would come through since Congress and the White House both understand the importance of the facility.

“While the appropriations process is always a messy one, full of bluster and political posturing, I am confident that the project will again be funded at a more than adequate level to continue the construction of this critical national security project,” she said.

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