The beleaguered National Bio and Agro-Defense facility could face yet more challenges as a result of new congressional parameters released today by a three-judge panel.
The federal judges expanded the 1st Congressional District to include Manhattan, home to Kansas State University and the proposed animal disease bio-research facility. (Click HERE for a link to the new maps.) Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said he won't appeal the new maps, and knows of no other legal challenges to them, The Kansas City Star reported.
The problem for NBAF is that Republican Tim Huelskamp, who represents the large 1st District of western and central Kansas, is an outspoken member of the Tea Party wing in Congress. Although he’s consistently supported funding for NBAF, he’s also philosophically in favor of smaller federal government and has come to blows with the Republican leadership on spending issues.
Huelskamp famously crossed U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, during last year’s debt-ceiling debate, causing some NBAF advocates to wonder if the tussle could endanger future funding for the project. But a spokesman for Rep. Huelskamp’s office said that in spite of disagreements over funding issues, the congressman has “an open line of communication” with Boehner.
Still, Steve Morris, president of the Kansas Senate, has argued that it is important for Manhattan to stay in the 2nd District, represented by Lynn Jenkins. Jenkins also is a Tea Party supporter but has been an outspoken supporter of the NBAF.
NBAF’s total cost is now projected to be over a $1 billion, and Congress and the White House have been cautious with its funding. The U.S. House added $75 million to the project for 2012, which would bring federal funding up to $165 million.