US Senate veterans panel to review pricey Denver hospital

AP News
|
Posted: Apr 16, 2015 5:43 PM

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a hearing in Colorado next week to scrutinize the bungled VA hospital project and visit the construction site.

The hearing will be held April 24 in suburban Aurora, where the hospital is being built, the committee announced Thursday.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee grilled the Department of Veterans Affairs at its own hearing in Washington on Wednesday.

The hospital is expected to cost $1.73 billion, about $1 billion more than budgeted. The VA has blamed problems in the planning process, extravagant design elements and other factors. An internal investigation is underway.

The department wants to complete the facility using money that was allocated to improve veterans' access to medical care nationwide, but some members of Congress are refusing to go along. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, a member of the Senate veterans committee, said Thursday he opposes that idea.

Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman, both Colorado Republicans, are sponsoring legislation to divert the VA's multimillion-dollar bonus budget to the Denver hospital until it's finished.

Gardner and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, requested the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. Neither is on the veterans committee, but both of them plan to attend.

Bennet and Gardner said the hearing will help make the case for funding the hospital. Both have argued that the VA must change the way it handles major construction projects.