April 4, 2006
Media contact: Jeff Schrade (202)224-9093

(Washington, DC) ? U.S. Senator Larry Craig, a member of the Appropriations Committee and chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, expressed support today to build a new hospital for veterans who live in the New Orleans area.

Craig's recommendation to fully fund that hospital was adopted late in the day and is now part of a $100 billion emergency supplemental to fund ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for recovery efforts from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. That measure will soon be on the floor of the Senate for a final vote, and then reconciled with a House emergency supplemental appropriations bill.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has indicated that the cost for the new VA hospital in New Orleans will be $636 million.

Sen. Craig noted that the funding bill cautions VA officials about building in a location that is part of a flood zone, and the bill admonishes VA to construct the new hospital to withstand hurricane forces.

During today's hearing, Craig spoke directly to Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) and said:

"As I've expressed to you, I have some frustration about how this particular emergency supplemental is addressing other VA needs, both in the state of Mississippi, and elsewhere. I also understand the need for action to be taken as quickly as possible to get the resources to the Gulf to replace the kind of health care delivery system that was wiped out by Katrina.

"I will certainly not stand in the way of that. But most importantly, we have put some language in the bill, and you worked with us, as has Sen. Landrieu, specific to New Orleans and the New Orleans facility, to make sure that VA works collaboratively with the medical universities in the New Orleans area, for the kind of positive synergy we need in health care delivery and medical training that we've had there in the past."

More of Senator Craig's statement on New Orleans can be heard by clicking on: