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Govt. bill may pay for over-budget VA hospital

Posted at 9:05 AM, Sep 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-24 11:05:13-04

The Veterans Affairs Department could get enough money to finish its budget-busting medical center outside Denver if Congress passes a stop-gap measure to avert a government shutdown.

The measure would let the VA transfer the $625 million it says it needs from other accounts in its own budget. But strings are attached, including a requirement that the House and Senate appropriations committees approve the details.

The half-finished hospital is expected to cost up to $1.73 billion, nearly three times the estimates given last year. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson and others have blamed problems in the contract process and an excessive design.

Congress would still have to pass separate legislation raising the spending cap on the project.

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The overall spending measure also faces obstacles in Congress, including an attempt by conservative Republicans to deny funding to Planned Parenthood.

Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet said Wednesday the VA isn't off the hook. He says the agency must hold accountable those responsible for the roughly $1 billion overrun.

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