- Congress, according to CO lawmakers, will fund the entire construction cost of the controversial $1.675 billion Veterans Affairs' hospital project in Aurora, CO, preventing an October shutdown, despite last-minute push-back from U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House veterans committee and a vocal critic of the VA’s handling of the project.
- Miller wanted the department to cover a portion of the cost using $200 million earmarked for employee bonuses and lectured the VA about its lack of accountability, highlighting the agency’s decision to spend millions of dollars on artwork and conferences in the face of mismanagement and cost overruns.
- The Aurora, CO, project will cost $1 billion more than the original budget, is the subject of two federal inquiries, and is generally acknowledged to be the VA’s biggest construction failure.
The Senate bill providing the last piece of funding to the Aurora project will also put the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of any VA construction project expected to cost $100 million or more — a direct response to the VA’s mismanagement of its Colorado facility, as well as hospitals in Orlando, FL, Las Vegas, NV, and New Orleans, LA.
"There is no doubt the VA mismanaged this project from the start. And as disappointing and unacceptable as this situation has been, we are where we are," said U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado.
According to congressional aides, Miller finally agreed to vote for the Senate bill after assurances that the VA would consider his ideas for ways the VA could contribute more money to the project.