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Courtney, DeLauro, Zeldin Announce Inclusion of Language Restricting the Sale of Plum Island in Homeland Appropriations Bill

June 11, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), and Rep. Lee Zeldin (NY-01) announced that language they authored and advanced to restrict the sale of Plum Island, NY was included in the House Appropriations Committee’s legislation making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for Fiscal Year 2020.

The Manager’s Amendment to the Homeland Security appropriations bill included language to repeal the statutory requirement to sell Plum Island, and report language encouraging the Department of Homeland Security to limit any future use of the island for the purposes of research, education, and conservation.

“Plum Island is an ecological treasure, and I appreciate that the House Appropriations Committee has acknowledged this by including the repeal of the requirement for the island’s sale in this year’s Homeland Security spending bill,” said Courtney. “For over a decade, New York and Connecticut delegation members have been working across the aisle and across Long Island Sound to get this across the finish line. I would like to particularly thank my colleague Congresswoman DeLauro for all of her work on the Appropriations Committee to get this repeal included in the legislation.” 

“Today’s victory is the next critical step toward preserving the future of Plum Island,” said DeLauro. “Plum Island is a priceless refuge for wildlife and native plants that, once developed, cannot be restored. By repealing the statutory requirement to sell Plum Island we can ensure its ecological, historical, and cultural value are protected for future generations.”

“Not only does Plum Island offer Long Island a diverse wildlife and ecosystem and critical habitat for migratory birds, marine mammals, and rare plants, but it is also an essential cultural and historical resource,” said Zeldin. “The current law, which mandates the sale of the island to the highest bidder, is the wrong path forward, because it does not provide for public access and permanent preservation of the island, or the continued use of the research infrastructure. The state-of-the-art research facility at Plum Island must not go to waste, and preserving this island’s natural beauty while maintaining a research mission will continue to provide important economic and environmental benefits to Long Island. I thank my colleagues from Connecticut, Representatives Courtney and DeLauro, for their bipartisan leadership on this issue and the continued support of my Long Island colleagues, Representatives King, Rice and Suozzi. Time and time again, the House has passed legislation to save Plum Island, and it’s long overdue that the Senate do the same.”

In April, Reps. Courtney, DeLauro and Zeldin were joined by a bipartisan group of Members in writing to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chairman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Ranking Member Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03) to request that language ordering the sale of Plum Island to the highest bidder be repealed by including their language in this year’s Homeland Security spending bill. Click here to read their letter.

In 2008, the federal government announced plans to close the research facility on Plum Island and relocate to Manhattan, Kansas. Current law states that Plum Island must be sold publicly to help finance the new research facility. For several years, Members from both sides of Long Island Sound have been working in a bipartisan manner to delay and, ultimately, repeal the mandated sale of this ecologically significant island. In the 115th Congress, the Representatives, along with their colleagues from the Connecticut and New York delegations, cosponsored legislation that passed the House unanimously to delay the sale of Plum Island.