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    VA Spending Bill Would Provide Increases to Research and Medical Care Services

    Andrew Herrin, Senior Legislative Analyst
    For Media Inquiries

    Congress approved the first package of fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations bills by a 339-85 vote in the House on March 6.  

    The House and Senate Appropriations Committees released their first package of FY 2024 appropriations bills on March 3, including funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). According to a committee-prepared summary, the FY 2024 Military, Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies spending bill includes a $943 million (2.9%) funding increase over FY 2023 funding levels for VA research as part of a $121 billion ($2.3 billion or 2%) increase for the Veterans Health Administration medical care programs. VA research funding would receive a $5 million increase compared to the FY 2024 President’s Budget Request and amounts approved in respective House and Senate proposed bills [refer to Washington Highlights, June 16, 2023, and June 23, 2023]. 

    Similar to FY 2023, the bill provides not less than $10 million to support partnerships between VA medical centers and National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers. Noting a lack of capacity to increase current clinical trials into additional areas of the country, the bill directs an additional $5 million be allocated to expand the Precision Oncology Program for Cancer of the Prostate.  

    On animal testing, the bill would require the VA to describe in any report to Congress animal research details on alternatives to animals that were considered, an explanation for why those alternatives were not chosen, and why the option selected was most viable among the alternatives for research. The committee report notes that the department is required to eliminate research conducted using canines, felines, or nonhuman primates by March 2026 and requests a briefing on a plan to do so within 90 days of the enactment of the bill.