Maryland Democrats Blast FBI HQ Plan

Cardin, Hoyer concerned about effort to put new FBI building at current location

Maryland lawmakers are criticizing the GSA and FBI plan to rebuild the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on its current site. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Trump administration’s proposal to keep the FBI headquarters adjacent to the president’s hotel complex in downtown D.C., has raised the ire of Maryland lawmakers.

“Throughout the Bush and Obama Administrations, the FBI and GSA repeatedly told Congress that the FBI needs a new, fully consolidated headquarters, going so far as to stress the need for selecting a new site because the existing location does not allow the FBI to consolidate the almost 11,000 headquarters employees into one facility,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said in a statement

Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, represents a district including Prince George’s County, which had been viewed as a favored location for the project.

“Time and time again, Congress was told that the FBI needed a new, fully consolidated headquarters in order to complete its vital national security mission, and it was made clear that building a new headquarters at the Pennsylvania Avenue location would not achieve that objective and be exceedingly costly for taxpayers,”Hoyer said.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee received the new federal building proposal on Monday. The panel has scheduled a Feb. 28, hearing to get testimony from both the FBI and the General Services Administration.

EPW Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., criticized the GSA on Jan. 29, after the agency failed to meet an agreed-upon deadline for providing the plan.

The new proposal would relocate about 2,300 of the more than 10,000 to sites outside of the National Capital Region.

That includes sites in Idaho and West Virginia, as well as to the Redstone Arsenal complex in Huntsville, Ala.

That’s a move sure to be welcomed by Sen. Richard C. Shelby, the Alabama Republican who is chairman of the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations subcommittee.

A justification offered by the GSA and FBI to the EPW Committee, a copy of which was obtained by Roll Call, calls for using some of the additional space for appropriations provided by the two-year budget deal to fund the project, to the tune of almost $2.2 billion.

“Two-year budget cap deal provides a unique opportunity to secure appropriations for the FBI headquarters,” the presentation said. “Congressional support and timely funding will be critical to ensure a successful project.”

“As a part of the report’s proposal GSA will temporarily relocate FBI operations and personnel from this facility, and demolish the existing J. Edgar Hoover building,” a GSA spokesperson said. “Additionally following the examination of several acquisition strategies and in light of the recent budget agreement, GSA and FBI are requesting federal appropriations to fully fund the project.”

The current structure on Pennsylvania Ave., in northwest Washington is near the Justice Department’s headquarters, as well as the Old Post Office Building that is the site of a Trump International hotel property.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democratic member of the EPW Committee, blasted the report to the committee, saying the proposal for a downtown headquarters “makes little sense.”

The previous GSA and FBI plan for a suburban campus at a cost of roughly $1.4 billion was cancelled last July.

“To put forward a proposal that has a higher cost for less consolidation and is inconsistent with congressional authorization is bizarre — perhaps more bizarre than GSA’s original decision to cancel the previous procurement,” Cardin said in a statement. “It is incomprehensible how the agency came to this decision.”

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