Delaney Amends Defense Authorization Bill to Protect National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center in Frederick

Jul 14, 2017
Press Release
Delaney amendment prohibits closure or transfer of any biosafety level 4 lab, including NBACC, until it can be certified that biological defense capabilities are not impacted

WASHINGTON – Congressman John K. Delaney (MD-6) has successfully amended the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810) to include a provision that would protect the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) in Frederick. The overall legislation, which now includes Congressman Delaney’s amendment, passed the House of Representatives on Friday. Congressman Delaney voted for the overall bill.

President Trump’s 2018 budget – which is non-binding – eliminated funding for the facility, which prompted officials at NBACC to announce that it would be closing next year. However, all budget and appropriations matters are the provenance of Congress. Congressman Delaney announced in May that he was 100% opposed to the closing of NBACC.    

Congressman Delaney’s amendment was added to the National Defense Authorization Act during floor debate on Friday. Delaney’s amendment prohibits any funds being used to close or transfer any biosafety level 4 laboratory – which includes NBACC – until the heads of the Federal agencies that use the laboratory jointly certify to Congress that the closure or transfer would not have a negative effect on the nation’s biological defense capabilities. 

“My amendment puts the brakes on the closure of the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center in Frederick. Closing NBACC would be bad for Frederick, but it would be worse for the country: we should not do anything to weaken our biodefense capabilities. My amendment is really commonsense; we’re not going to close NBACC or a high-level lab like it until we have assurances from every agency that relies on the lab that our biological defense won’t be undermined. This is good news for NBACC, but we’re going to keep fighting, because the budget and appropriations process has just begun.” 

The NBACC is operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is a one-of-a-kind facility dedicated to defending the United States against biological threats. Located at Fort Detrick, the NBACC supports preparedness planning, intelligence assessments and bio-forensic analysis and is used by multiple government agencies. The lab often assists the FBI in investigating bioterrorism and bio-crime and employs over 180 people.

The National Defense Authorization Act is legislation passed each year in Congress that authorizes funding levels and appropriate policies relating to national defense.