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Ms. JENKINS. Mr. Chairman, 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.
But not only will the NBAF accelerate America's ability to protect ourselves, our food supply, and the ag 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 as planned. Currently, we do not have the ability to research the effects of these diseases on large animals 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 for the NBAF is in Manhattan, Kansas.
Congress has already appropriated $90 million, and the State of Kansas and the city of Manhattan have already committed more than $200 million towards this project.
In this age of uncertainty and global threats, conducting vital research to protect our Nation could not be more crucial. We cannot just wish away these threats or rely on others for our own security. And the truth of the matter is we are dangerously under-protected from the threat of a biological attack against our people and our food.
While the gentlelady's amendment to increase salaries for the Custom and Border Patrol has merit, it shouldn't be done by cutting 29 percent of the funding for construction of this important lab. The result of this amendment will be stopping or delaying construction of this nationally important NBAF facility, and our Nation's food supply cannot afford 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, and delaying this project further should not be 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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Ms. JENKINS. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
DHS, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, has made it clear that a BSL 4 lab is essential to our national security, and building a new structure to host the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is both responsible and cost effective. Manhattan, Kansas, was selected as the new site for the NBAF after an exhaustive study by the Bush administration's DHS, and then reconfirmed by the current administration's 2012 budget. We need NBAF, and Manhattan is the best place to build it, a fact that Secretary Napolitano confirmed earlier this year in a hearing with the Appropriations Committee.
While FEMA's State and local grants are important, increasing them by eliminating the funding for construction of this lab is simply irresponsible. Make no mistake about it; if we had a surplus, it might be nice to increase these grants. But the result of this amendment will be stopping or delaying construction of the nationally important NBAF facility and jeopardizing the security of our Nation's food supply.
I urge the body to reject this amendment.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT Ms. JENKINS. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
The first priority of the Federal Government is to protect the American people, and the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility has been declared necessary to provide that protection.
The Department of Homeland Security, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, and the House Appropriations Committee under both Democrat and Republican leadership, have made it quite clear time and time again that the country needs the NBAF, and the best place to do that research is in Manhattan, Kansas.
Congress has already appropriated $90 million, and the State of Kansas and the city of Manhattan have already committed more than $200 million towards the project. For the record, the calculations performed in this updated SSRA that were previously mentioned indicated that the estimated probability that an accident happening at this facility was less than 11 percent.
While again, this proposal might be nice if we had a surplus, the result of this amendment will be stopping or delaying construction of this vital NBAF facility, jeopardizing our security and our Nation's food supply. I urge the body to reject this amendment.
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