Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback spoke with U.S. Department of Homeland (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday regarding President Obama's proposal to reassess the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF).
"Secretary Napolitano and I had an excellent conversation this morning. She assured me the 'reassessment' had nothing to do with the need for or location of the NBAF but rather with the overall cost and scope of the project," Brownback said. "DHS selected Manhattan as the location of the NBAF on the merits. And I fully expect that the NBAF will be built here."
Secretary Napolitano is scheduled to testify before U.S. House and Senate committees respectively on today and Thursday.
Brownback said the state and the federal delegation will strongly pursue federal funding of the facility. He will hold a meeting of his NBAF Steering Committee in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week, Kansas officials had expressed concern that the President's budget cut funds for the construction of the NBAF, even though they were pleased at additions to pay for research missions currently at Plum Island that are moving to K-State's Biosecurity Research Institute.
K-State also has the ability to conduct some research that can't be done at Plum Island including Rift Valley Fever virus, a zoonotic pathogen that BRI research director Stephen Higgs says represents a threat similar to what the national suffered with West Nile virus.
Plum Island also does not have a insectary which provides the ability to study disease vectors including mosquitos, midges and other food-feeding insects.
"The evidence is clear that we need a cutting-edge biosecurity level 4 facility in this country. Kansas has won every competition, met every standard and proven its commitment to this project, and we'll do whatever it takes to fulfill this critical national security need," Brownback said.