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Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. JENKINS. After an exhaustive review, the Department of Homeland Security chose Manhattan, Kansas, as the site for the new BSL-4 National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility. This will be the only such facility capable of researching large animals in the United States. The construction of this cutting-edge facility must move forward quickly so we can safely conduct critical research to develop vaccines and countermeasures in order to protect the public and our livestock from the threats of devastating diseases.

Not only will the NBAF accelerate America's ability to protect ourselves, our food supply, and the agriculture economy from biological threats, it will also be the world's premier animal health research facility and further solidify our Nation's place as the international leader in animal health. The NBAF is needed to replace the obsolete and increasingly expensive Plum Island Animal Disease Center. This lab was built in the 1950s and has reached the end of its life. The facility does not contain the necessary biosafety level to meet the NBAF research requirements--and it never will. Any attempts to upgrade Plum Island would cost more than building the NBAF.

Currently, we don't have the ability to research the effects of disease on large animals, such as foot-and-mouth disease, African swine fever, and Rift Valley fever, at any facility in the United States, nor can we rely on international partners for our own security needs. The NBAF project has a history of broad-based support. DHS, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, and the House Appropriations Committee, under both Democrat and Republican leadership, have made it clear time and time again that our country needs the NBAF. And the best place is in Manhattan, Kansas.

The President's budget includes $714 million, which would complete construction. And while I prefer that this bill include that figure, Chairman Carter has responsibly included sufficient funding for this fiscal year of $404 million. Construction on this facility has already begun, and Congress has already appropriated $127.5 million and the State of Kansas and the city of Manhattan have already committed more than $200 million towards the project. These dollars show a strong commitment at both the Federal, State, and local levels.

Our Nation's food supply cannot sustain another delay. We need to protect our food and our families from danger. We need to stay on the cutting edge of this research field. Our security is at risk. Delaying this project any further is not an option. We need NBAF.

I urge my colleagues to vote against this destructive amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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