Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Chairman, I would like to engage in a colloquy with the Republican manager, the chairman of the subcommittee, the gentleman from New York (Mr. WALSH), and the Democratic manager, my colleague, the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. Mollohan).
First, I would like to recognize both the chairman and the ranking minority member for their continued support for medical and prosthetic research in the Veterans Health Administration. It is in great measure due to their support and commitment that this bill has come to the floor with approximately $20 million more than had been initially programmed for prosthetic research.
Dating back to the spring, when I first contacted them and their colleagues in the Committee on Appropriations, urging them to take the necessary step that we began last year when the chairman similarly approved my amendment to raise the funding of this very program, they have once again responded affirmatively to my request that we increase the funding for this extremely important research program.
Secondly, I would like to emphasize that this increase will assist the VA research program in achieving the stability necessary for successful research, one that can eventually achieve its full potential for finding cures and treatments for many chronic and terrible diseases. The VA research program is uniquely positioned to advance diagnosis and treatment for conditions that particularly affect veterans, including prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, mental illnesses,
spinal cord injury, and aging-related diseases. But I remind my colleagues that, ultimately, our Nation as a whole is the beneficiary of research conducted by the VA.
Mr. Chairman, this generous increase would not have been possible without the complete support of the chairman and the ranking member. I believe in their commitment to this program and trust they will work with the Senate in conference to secure up to the $391 million for this program. I wish to note that our colleagues in the Senate have provided a $40 million increase for this deserving program. I ask the chairman and the valued ranking member for their commitment to work with their Senate
counterparts during conference to achieve the highest possible funding for the VA medical and prosthetic research program.
Mr. WALSH. Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the gentleman from Illinois for his advocacy in this area. The bill provides $20 million over last year's funding level for VA research, plus $30 million in construction funds specifically for research facility rehabilitation.
Because the Senate has provided a higher funding level for VA research in their bill, this account will be an issue in conference; and we will take into account the views and concerns of the gentleman from Illinois and the other Members who have expressed an interest in increasing funding for this important account as we move forward.
I thank the gentleman for his willingness to withdraw his amendment.
Mr. MOLLOHAN. Mr. Chairman, I want to commend the gentleman for bringing this issue to the attention of the full House, and I want the gentleman to know that it is certainly high on the priority list for the chairman. He added $10 million in this account during the full committee, and we have just heard him express his real support for taking a strong look at it during conference.
I commend the gentleman for bringing it to our attention, and I understand he is going to withdraw his amendment, but I just want to assure him that both sides of the aisle are supportive and will support him in conference.