Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune announced today that two amendments he filed yesterday to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill were passed by the Senate and may result in funding projects in South Dakota. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill now goes to conference with the House to be reconciled.

The first amendment makes available, at the discretion of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), up to $500,000 for the Wagner Service Unit (WSU) Emergency Room service for fiscal year 2007, pending a business plan that evaluates the prospect of collaboration between the VA and the IHS at the Wagner facility. This proposed cooperation would be in keeping with the ideals set out in a 2003 memorandum of understanding between the Veterans Health Administration and the IHS. The Indian Health Service's plan calls for shifting WSU emergency room service from a 24-7 operation to a 7AM to 11PM Monday through Saturday operation.

"I applaud the IHS and the VA's efforts to collaborate so far and this measure is meant to advance the relationship they have already established," said Senator Thune. "This is a good start and I hope the two agencies will arrive at an outcome that preserves essential emergency room hours."

The other amendment would provide discretionary authorization to the Air Force to spend an additional $750,000 in military construction funds at Ellsworth Air Force Base to begin ramp-up of the new Air Force Financial Management Center. This would be in addition to the $4.3 million for the Financial Services Center that Senator Thune successfully inserted into the Department of Defense fiscal year 2007 Appropriations bill already signed into law by the President. Thune announced in April that Ellsworth was awarded this highly sought-after mission that will create hundreds of additional military and civilian jobs at Ellsworth.

"The men and women at Ellsworth Air Force base have proven time and time again that they are an exemplary military base and ready to heed whatever call is presented to them. I am proud of the work we have been able to do together and look forward to continuing to work hard to bring new missions to Ellsworth," said Thune.