Workers have already cleared the Kansas site, and the state has committed itself to authorizing up to $105 million in bonds to help with the project. State officials envisioned the lab, which would research foot-and-mouth and other dangerous animal diseases, as a key part of an emerging biosciences industry.
Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas' congressional delegation - all Republicans - issued a statement saying further review of merits of the facility is needless and "a waste of taxpayer dollars." The officials promised to work to overcome the recommendation from Obama, a Democrat, and said doing so will protect the security of the nation's food supply.
"This change of direction is unacceptable and will leave our country vulnerable," the statement said. "Kansas has won every competition, met every standard and proven its commitment to this project, and we'll do whatever it takes to fulfill this critical national security need."
Congress appropriated only $50 million of the $150 million the Obama administration requested for the lab in the current budget year, which the White House said was insufficient to begin construction.
"In light of this, the Administration will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the project in 2012, which will consider the cost, safety and any alternatives to the current plan that would reduce costs and ensure safety," the budget document unveiled Monday states.
Obama is asking the Department of Homeland Security to re-evaluate the project, while spending $10 million to increase the amount of research being done at Kansas State's Biosecurity Research Institute. Brownback and state's congressional delegation took that decision as a vote of confidence in Kansas State's researchers to do the work.
The budget plan also calls for developing a public outreach program to notify surrounding residents and livestock producers about the additional research and safety measures in place to protect humans and animals.
But the proposal still is a major blow to Kansas, which expected the new lab to have more than 300 jobs paying an average of more than $75,000 a year in salary and benefits.