Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., says lawmakers will insist on significant changes in the Veterans Affairs Department before approving money to finish an over-budget VA hospital in suburban Denver.
Coffman spoke Sunday after addressing a rally of more than 150 veterans and supporters demanding the hospital be completed.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., also spoke at the event, and said the delays and controversy over the facility's construction were frustrating.
“It certainly is nothing I ever wanted to see," he said. "Getting the first $800 million for this was very difficult, but we’re going to finish this thing.”
The project is expected to cost $1.73 billion, nearly three times last year's estimate. Completion isn't expected until 2017.
Tennith Camelle, of Boulder, a veteran of three wars, says he’s waited for 10 years to see the hospital and research facility built.
"It’s so frustrating. The minute we see a little bit of completion, maybe a goal in sight, something happens," Camelle said. "The funding runs out, or they have a disagreement, and now it’s the funding running out again.”
The VA is struggling to persuade Congress to approve up to $830 million to finish. Lawmakers are demanding the department fire those responsible for the overruns and change the way it handles big construction projects.
Only a short-term deal approved by lawmakers nine days ago is keeping the money flowing. Unless a new agreement is reached by about June 12, construction could stop.