House budget deal includes funding for lab at K-State

Funding for the next phase of construction of a national research lab at Kansas State University is closer to reality after Thursday’s vote in the U.S. House to approve a bipartisan budget agreement.

If the Senate goes along with the deal, $404 million will be appropriated to continue construction of the $1.25 billion National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in northeast Kansas. The lab will replace an aging facility at Plum Island, N.Y., and conduct research on deadly animal pathogens.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, said voting for the spending package was “the only responsible option” for the Kansas economy and controlling federal spending. The bill passed 332-94.

The 2nd District congresswoman said stop-work notices would have been issued without the additional federal funding, which would have in effect halted the project and hurt the economy. Construction has already started on a central utility plant that will provide services to the lab.

State officials have approved spending up to $305 million in bond proceeds as part of its cost to construct the lab.

Construction on the main laboratory facility is expected to begin in 2014. The Department of Homeland Security has not published a date for certifying the lab and beginning operations, but Kansas State officials have hoped that it would be by 2018.

Rep. Kevin Yoder, who represents Kansas’ 3rd District, also voted in favor of the budget proposal. The other Kansas congressmen, Reps. Tim Huelskamp and Mike Pompeo, voted against it. All four are Republicans.