Senate passes short-term bill to continue construction at VA hospital

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WASHINGTON --The U.S. Senate passed a short-term bill to continue construction at the VA hospital in Aurora Friday afternoon. The House passed the measure Thursday, just ahead of the project running out of money to continue work.

Without the action, construction would've stopped Sunday, putting hundreds of employees out of work.

“A shutdown would have been the worst outcome, adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of construction,” Colorado Senator Michael Bennet said.

The price tag for the facility has sky-rocketed to $1.73 billion. The Department of Veterans Affairs needs an additional $830 million to finish the project.

The deal came as a result of last-minute negotiations.

“Much hard work remains to be done to deliver the world-class medical facility that veterans deserve and were promised,” Colorado Senator Cory Gardner said. “The VA, working with Congress, must fulfill its obligation to find a viable path forward on this hospital and make sure those responsible for the delays and cost overruns are held accountable.”

The short-term measure allows the VA and the contractor building the hospital, Kiewit-Turner, to spend additional money to keep work going for about another three weeks. It gives Congress and the VA time to come up with a long-term funding plan to finish the hospital.

"The Colorado delegation has stood united in our effort to complete this hospital, and we will continue to work with the White House, the VA, and with Congressional and committee leadership to find a path forward," Sen. Bennet said.

See full VA hospital coverage here.