A key House bill passed Thursday night with a measure that aims to block the sale of Plum Island by barring the use of federal funds to market or sell the property.
The amendment by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) was tacked onto the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2017 and had the bipartisan support of lawmakers from New York and Connecticut.
It’s another strike against the federal government’s plan to sell the land to the highest bidder to recoup some of the expense in relocating the Plum Island Animal Disease Center to Kansas and building a $1.25 billion facility there.
Several lawmakers and many environmentalists want to make the island’s 800-plus acres into a federal wildlife refuge, citing the presence of rare or endangered plants and animals.
The amendment covers spending for several agencies, including the General Services Administration, which is in charge of real estate sales for the federal government.
In May, the House passed another Zeldin proposal to save Plum Island by reversing part of a 2008 federal law mandating the sale.
“Yet again, the House of Representatives is acting to save Plum Island by passing my legislative proposals to stop a sale to the highest bidder,” Zeldin said in a statement.
The Senate version of the spending bill has not been scheduled for a vote and does not contain a similar measure. Any differences between the House and Senate spending bills would be negotiated by a committee of lawmakers.
Zeldin, who is up for re-election, said the passage of his measure and other bills would pave the way for public access to the island and protection of natural resources.