Lawmakers to VA: Find another way to pay for Aurora hospital

Photo: Aurora VA Hospital construction April 2015 2 (AP Photo)
A worker walks at the construction site of the Veterans Affairs hospital Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. Veterans Affairs officials are trying to get the overdue, over-budget hospital back on track.

Lawmakers from both parties say money from a new health care law will not be used to pay for a half-finished hospital in Denver that one senator called a "mockery of government contracting."

The Department of Veterans Affairs is asking Congress to redirect $730 million from a new law intended to reduce waiting times for veterans seeking health care to complete the long-delayed hospital. The project now is expected to cost more than $1.7 billion, nearly triple an estimate VA gave last year.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, the top Democrat on the Senate veterans panel, called the project a mockery and said the funding request was a "non-starter."

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson said the agency does "not have $700 million sitting on the sidelines."