By: Gina Luke, assistant director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division
President Obama has threatened to veto H.R. 240, which would fund the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and includes monies for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) for fiscal 2015.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the $47.8 billion spending bill on Jan. 14 after adopting five GOP amendments that would bar the government from using funds to implement the Obama administration’s controversial immigration policies.
The AVMA is pleased to see that the bill includes $1.1 billion for the Science & Technology Directorate, which will help sustain investment in high-priority R&D efforts that promote the development and deployment of technologies and capabilities to improve the nation’s security. Of the total provided, $130 million is slated for the management and administration of the directorate and $974 million is for research programs.
Of specific interest to veterinary medicine, the bill provides $435 million for DHS’ laboratory facilities, including $300 million for the initial construction activities for the NBAF in Manhattan, Kansas, which is expected to begin this year. NBAF is a bio-containment facility that will house studies on foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic diseases that could threaten U.S. animal agriculture and public health. The bill also funds Research, Development & Innovation Projects at $457 million.
The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration, where Republican leaders will have a tough time securing the 60 votes needed to send it to President Obama. If Senate leaders allow an open amendment process on H.R. 240, consideration of the bill could drag up to or beyond Feb. 27, which is when DHS’ current funding expires. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has not ruled out the possibility that the House may be forced to drop the amendments relating to immigration in order to prevent an appropriations lapse.