By: Gina Luke, assistant director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division
In last month’s issue of The Advocate, we reported that Congress has until Feb. 27 to pass a budget for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Now, our leaders in Congress are scrambling to agree on the future for this agency before its current funding expires.
Republicans in both chambers have attempted to send the president a fiscal 2015 budget, but their efforts have been stymied by Senate Democrats who are filibustering the House-passed bill (H.R. 240). At the heart of the issue is a controversial executive order that President Obama imposed late last year, which the House bill would nullify by prohibiting the agency from enforcing it.
The AVMA has been following the bill’s progress because it contains needed funding for the initial construction activities for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kan., which is expected to begin this year. NBAF is a bio-containment facility that will house studies on foreign animal and emerging and zoonotic diseases that could threaten U.S. animal agriculture and public health.
If lawmakers cannot come to agreement on the $39.7 billion fiscal 2016 bill to fund DHS, then it is likely that they will pass another short-term continuing resolution to keep the agency from shutting down.