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VA Promises Gulf Coast Rebuilding: VA Secretary James Nicholson assured lawmakers at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that the Department of Veterans Affairs is planning to rebuild its presence in Louisiana and Mississippi. Nicholson told the panel the President has committed $1.38 billion in the supplemental budget request to rebuild several facilities damaged by both Hurricane Katrina and Rita. The money includes $1.15 billion for rebuilding the New Orleans Medical Center and funds to repair and add a bed tower to the Biloxi, Miss., medical center. An additional $25 million has been allotted to allow the VA to furnish and begin replacing the regional office in New Orleans.