AP -- Congressional negotiators agreed Wednesday to allow the Homeland Security Department to spend federal money planning and designing a foot-and-mouth research lab in
A Homeland Security Department spending bill approved by a House and Senate conference committee includes $32 million for the National Agro- and Bio-Defense Facility planned for
The House wanted to withhold all money until a third party studied the lab's safety, while the Senate wanted to give Homeland Security the money and have it do the study. In a compromise, Wednesday's move awards the money for planning but requires the additional study before any funds could be used for construction of the facility.
It was unclear how much of the money was available for planning and design. Homeland Security Department officials originally wanted $36 million to start work on the lab. Of that amount, $27 million was for planning.
There has been opposition to the lab and the foot-and-mouth disease research to be done there, based in part on concerns that an accidental release of the disease would devastate livestock.
The compromise spending bill must be approved by the House and Senate before going to the president. Final approval is almost certain.
Negotiators want the Homeland Security Department to study the risks of operating the planned 520,000-square-foot lab, known as NBAF, and what would be required to safely operate it. The study is to be reviewed and validated by the National Academy of Sciences, said Rep. David Price, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's homeland security subcommittee.
Also, the secretaries of the Homeland Security and Agriculture Departments must report to congressional committees on what procedures it will use to issue a permit for foot-and-mouth disease research and on an emergency response plan if there is an accidental release, Price said in documents released at the conference committee hearing.
"It is a clear indication the Congress understands the importance of building a new lab to protect the nation's food supply and supports moving ahead with construction of the lab in
The Homeland Security Department chose
A group that tried to lure the site to