As the members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee toured the half-finished VA medical center in Aurora, Colo., Friday, one of them called for an independent investigation of the $1 billion in cost overruns at the $1.7 billion hospital.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)  suggested the U.S. Department of Justice conduct the investigation instead of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, whose review panel has been criticized.

“The people responsible for the financial catastrophe here need to be held accountable,” he said outside the building after a committee tour.

The investigation should look into the project’s “disastrous” cost and delays, he said.

After the tour of the hospital in the Denver suburb, the committee held a field hearing off site, which at times became tense with Blumenthal and other lawmakers demanding to know who was responsible for the project’s ballooning cost.

The hearing grew especially heated when Committee chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) grilled the VA’s deputy secretary, Sloan Gibson,  about why no VA employees involved in any of the four new VA hospitals that are over budget and behind schedule have been fired.

Gibson said those responsible for two key decisions on the Aurora project are no longer in their jobs. But he did not name anyone who had been fired.

Correction: An earlier version of this post gave the incorrect party affiliation for Sen. Richard Blumenthal. He is a Democrat.