First District Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who may be the area’s Congressmen next year, tried Monday to dispel any local doubts about his support for funding of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility.
Karen Steward, Huelskamp’s press secretary, issued a statement in which the first-term Congressman affirmed his backing for the Level 4, federal research laboratory that is under construction on the Kansas State University campus. State Sen. Roger Reitz, who served with Huelskamp in the Senate for several years prior to Huelskamp’s election to Congress, on Monday questioned whether the congressman’s fiscal conservatism would get in the way of his support for the facility.
Huelskamp not only reaffirmed that support, but announced that he plans to tour the NBAF site next Monday.
“For the sake of our national security and the safety of our food supply, the importance of finishing the construction of NBAF and getting the facility online cannot be overstated,” the statement released by Huelskamp’s office said. He noted that in the Kansas Senate he voted for the bonds to finance the project, and in the U.S. House voted for a stand-alone 2012 Homeland Security appropriations measure that included funding for NBAF. “As an agriculture producer myself, I know firsthand it is critical that we finalize funding for NBAF in order to protect our food supply,” Huelskamp’s statement said.
Huelskamp, elected in 2010, will also tour the already operational Biosecurity Research Institute, a Level 3 facility operated by KSU. NBAF is set to replace the aging Plum Island, New York, facility.
In his statement, Huelskamp noted that Gov. Sam Brownback had appointed him to serve on a steering committee aimed at finalizing the NBAF construction in Kansas last July.
At a Chamber legislative breakfast Monday, Reitz expressed concern about Huelskamp’s level of support for the NBAF during a discussion about the prospect of the Manhattan area being moved from Lynn Jenkins’ Second District into Huelskamp’s First District.
“Many of us feel uncomfortable that the First District has a reputation for small government, come what may,” Reitz said. He expressed concern that Huelskamp’s small-government focus might compromise his willingness to push for NBAF funding. “I know his positions,” Reitz said.