For immediate release:
Friday, September 24, 1999

Senate Approves VA/HUD
Montana Slated to Receive $21.5 Million; Burns Seeks More for Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Montana Senator Conrad Burns today announced that the Senate has approved the VA/HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2000, which contains $21.5 million in funding that Burns requested for Montana-related projects.

Burns noted that although he was pleased with Montana's share of the funding, he's still concerned that veterans' health care needs are not being met and that additional funding is needed to provide veterans with the care they deserve.

"Montana's veterans programs sorely need this funding, but quite frankly it's still not enough to provide the high level of healthcare that I believe they're entitled to," Burns said. "President Clinton clearly has no idea what it's like to wait for days on end, or to have to drive hundreds of miles to receive medical care. It's simply wrong that the healthcare needs of the men and women who fought for our country are not being met."

Burns was supportive of an earlier measure that would have increased veterans' healthcare funding by $1.1 billion, but the Clinton administration refused to back the effort. Burns opposed another effort to increase veterans' funding that would have raided the Social Security Trust Fund.

Burns continued to express disappointment with reduced funding levels for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, which uses public funds to leverage millions of private dollars to build affordable housing. The bill includes $60 million for the program, although it received $90 million last year.

In addition the legislation contains funding for the following projects in Montana that Burns requested:

Montana will also be eligible for funds from the following national grant programs:
  "Montana's universities and high-tech community have been doing a great deal of work with both national and global significance," Burns said. "Montana has come a long way in becoming part of the information era. We are blessed with a quality of life and a skilled workforce that make it a great place to do business. I will continue to fight to bring more research and development funds home."

House and Senate negotiators must now come together to iron out the differences in their respective bills.

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