House Appropriators Provide DHS Biodefense Facility Funding, R&D Boost

House appropriators have awarded what might be the final batch of funding for a new and long-sought DHS biodefense facility.

Note: this post has been updated from its original version.

Following a voice vote last Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee sent the FY 2015 Homeland Security funding bill to the full House. According to the Committee, the bill provides 39.2 billion in funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), $50 million below FY 2014 enacted but $887.8 million above the President's request. Visit the Committee's website for draft bill text and the associated report.

For R&D, the bill would provide roughly $904 million according to current AAAS estimates, $28 million or 3.2 percent above the request. R&D would also drop by 12.4 percent below FY 2014 levels, though this is somewhat misleading: the bulk of the decline is due to a reduced request for construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, KS, adjacent to Kansas State University's Biosecurity Research Institute. NBAF, a biosafety level 4 facility to replace the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center, received $404 million in FY 2014, and the department estimates only an additional $300 million is necessary to fully fund facility construction. For the moment, no further requests for appropriations are planned after FY 2015 (assuming DHS ultimately is granted the $300 million requested).

Elsewhere within the Science and Technology Directorate, appropriators elected to keep overall funding for the Research, Development, and Innovation account flat from FY 2014 levels, rather than granting the 6.1 percent cut sought by the Administration (see Chapter 11 of the FY 2015 AAAS R&D report for more on the President's budget for DHS). The Committee also granted an extra $10 million for cooperative university R&D programs.

Appropriators also gave a $2 million increase above the request to the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office's National Nuclear Forensics Expertise Development Program.