AURORA | Congress has agreed to another short-term deal to avoid a work stoppage on the over-budget veterans hospital under construction in Aurora.
The House approved a measure Friday to raise the spending cap by $150 million, allowing work to continue until at least September. The Senate approved the deal Thursday.
The bill was passed by unanimous consent in the House.
The project would have hit its current cap of $900 million in a few days. If that happened, construction would stop.
The measure allows the VA to shift $150 million from elsewhere in its budget, including $80 million in green energy projects for the VA and $3 million in delays to VA staff office construction.
It’s the second stop-gap measure for the project, which is now expected to cost up to $1.73 billion, nearly triple last year’s estimate.
Lawmakers haven’t been able to agree on a long-term deal. Congress wants major changes in the VA before approving enough money to complete the project.
Sen. Michael Bennet, who along with Sen. Cory Gardner introduced the measure in the Senate, praised the passage of the bill in the House.
“While another temporary funding solution isn’t the ideal way to move forward, it avoids a shutdown of construction that would be even more costly in the long run,” Bennet said. “Our bipartisan bill gives Congress and the VA more time to agree on a plan that identifies funding to complete the project and includes strong accountability measures to keep the project on track. The Colorado delegation will continue to work together to ensure veterans in Colorado and throughout the Rocky Mountain region get the hospital they have earned and deserve.”
A statement from the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, also said the bill’s passage was a great gain for the state.
“This was a team effort by the Colorado Congressional delegation,” Coffman said. “When it comes to supporting the men and women who served this nation, we are united. The VA’s mismanagement of this project is inexcusable and we intend on holding those responsible for the mistakes accountable. But our veterans should not suffer for VA’s mistakes and I am proud that we were able to keep this project going through September while we develop a long-term solution.”