Ms. SUTTON. Madam Chairman, I want to thank Chairwoman Velazquez for her support of this amendment; that would require that we recognize our veterans in this bill.
We ask our veterans to sacrifice years of their lives to protect our country and our loved ones. In return, we have made a commitment to honor their service.
And last year this Congress provided the largest increase in funding for the VA in history. And this year I am proud that in this bill we will continue to reaffirm our support for the men and women who have chosen to serve their country in uniform.
It's our responsibility to ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve. Our veterans also deserve to receive, as I have proposed in this amendment, priority status when applying for awards through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.
This amendment will grant a preference for the brave men and women who have sacrificed for all of us. As they return home and restart their lives, it's essential that the number of veterans who receive SBIR and STTR awards increases. The underlying bill includes a preference as was discussed, for applicants from rural areas and veterans deserve the same consideration.
Madam Chairman, 3 million veteran business owners responded to the 2002 survey of business owners administered through the U.S. Census Bureau. This survey revealed that veterans tend to be better educated and slightly older before starting or acquiring their businesses. This trend can undoubtedly be attributed to their time in the service and their use of one of the most important and successful pieces of legislation this body has ever passed, the GI bill.
Madam Chairman, our veterans will continue to make us proud as they make good use of the funding available through these important small business programs. As I have often said, it is not enough to simply pay tribute to our veterans with words; we must show them our appreciation with our actions. [Page: H2620]
I appreciate the support that has been expressed for this amendment, and I urge a ``yes'' vote.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Madam Chairman, I just simply want to say thank you to the gentlelady from Ohio for her sensitivity and commitment to our veterans at a time of war, and for working to perfect this legislation.
I have no opposition to this amendment. I am prepared to accept the amendment.
I yield to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Chabot).