House Passes Larsen Appropriations for Skagit, Whatcom Counties

Nov 7, 2007

Washington, D.C. — {Late last night, The House passed a House-Senate agreement on health, education, labor and veterans funding which includes appropriations for Skagit and Whatcom counties secured by U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02). The bill passed the House last night by a vote of 269 to 142.  The Senate is scheduled to consider the bill today, and the President has threatened a veto. To become law, these appropriations must either be signed into law by the President or pass both Houses of Congress by veto-proof majorities.

The conference report on the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill complies with the Democrat’s five-year balanced budget plan, provides the largest increase for veterans health care in history, rejects the President’s proposed cuts to needed resources for health care and education -- increasing the maximum Pell Grant award and strengthening job training programs -- and makes critical investments in home heating assistance and grants for life-saving medical research.

The bill includes the following appropriations for Northwest Washington:

Funding for Skagit Valley Hospital Regional Cancer Care Center

The final funding bill includes $425,000 – an increase on the $250,000 passed by the House this summer -- to help Skagit Valley Hospital purchase cutting-edge equipment to perform stereotactic radiosurgery, a highly precise form of radiation therapy used primarily to treat brain cancer. It is a non-surgical procedure that uses x-rays to treat certain types of tumors, inoperable lesions and is also used as a post-operative treatment to eliminate any leftover tumor tissue.

“These resources would help bring this advanced technology closer to home for Skagit Valley patients and families,” said Larsen.

The newly-opened Skagit Valley Hospital Regional Cancer Care Center provides critical medical services to Northwest Washington’s five counties.  Over 600 Skagit Valley residents are diagnosed with cancer annually.  Since 2000, the number of cancer patients seeking treatment at Skagit Valley Hospital has increased by 15 percent. 

“We sincerely appreciate Congressman Larsen’s leadership,” said Skagit Valley Hospital CEO Gregg Davidson. “This funding really helps us bring the best cancer treatments to patients who desperately need it and is yet another example of the strong investment our community has made in bringing world-class healthcare to Mount Vernon and Skagit County.”

Funding for Bellingham Technical College

The funding bill passed last night includes $215,000 – an increase on the $150,000 passed by the House this summer -- to help Bellingham Technical College train energy workers for family wage jobs in Northwest Washington. The funding would help Bellingham Technical College’s Alternative Energy and Process Technology Workforce Development Project educate more students, acquire hands-on teaching tools and modernize its curriculum.

“With these resources, Bellingham Technical College could expand their training  programs that prepare Whatcom County workers for high-skill, family-wage jobs right here in Northwest Washington,” said Larsen.

The Northwest region is home to four large petroleum refineries and four power co-generation plants. With more than 50 percent of the workforce in these facilities projected to retire over the next 5-10 years, highly-skilled workers will be in demand for family-wage jobs.