Virginia leaders unite in making case to bring FBI headquarters to Springfield

In a recently rare show of bipartisan unity, almost a dozen of Virginia’s elected and community leaders made their case for why the new FBI headquarters should be located in Springfield.

“We’re here to welcome the FBI to Fairfax County,” Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay optimistically predicted, in a Wednesday morning news conference on the campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

The press event came after Virginia’s congressional delegation and Gov. Glenn Youngkin sent a letter to the heads of the General Services Administration and the FBI, detailing the ways Springfield best meets the five selection criteria for picking a location established by both agencies.

The criteria include support for the FBI mission requirement; transportation access; site development flexibility; promoting sustainable siting and advancing equity; and cost.

McKay cited the Springfield location’s proximity to the FBI Academy, located in Quantico, as well as nearby Metro, VRE, and commuter bus service.

In addition, building a new FBI headquarters in Springfield would be cheaper than in Maryland, according to McKay. “The site is already federally owned, meaning that the GSA can begin work on this site, now.”

virginia fbi
Virginia elected leaders, including Sen. Tim Kaine, Sen. Mark Warner, Fairfax Co. Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay, Gov. Glenn Youngkin, at a news Feb. 15, 2023 news conference on why the new FBI HQ should be located in Northern Virginia.

Youngkin, the sole Republican on stage, trumpeted other businesses that have recently decided to move to Virginia. “Amazon, Boeing, Raytheon Technologies — they have all undertaken this exact same selection process.”

Youngkin said Virginia’s quality of life should be appealing to the FBI.

“We are a state that is committed to uplifting the men and women who put on a uniform every day, including FBI agents, their families and their employees.”

Congressman Gerry Connolly said law enforcement is already well established in Northern Virginia.

“The Anti-Terrorism Center is in Virginia; the FBI Training Academy is in Virginia; the FBI archives and records facility is in Virginia. The last time I checked, the CIA is in Langley, Virginia, and the Pentagon is in Arlington, Virginia.”

Sen. Tim Kaine said establishing the FBI headquarters in Springfield would benefit the bureau.

“They will be able to attract and retain qualified workers for a very, very long time, and those workers will have schools and colleges that they’ll be proud to send their kids to,” he said.

Congressman Don Beyer said Virginia is also the center of technology innovation, citing Amazon’s decision to relocate. “If you look at the challenges for the FBI in years to come — cybersecurity, artificial intelligence — all that is incredibly relevant.”

The Springfield site is within the jurisdiction of Supervisor Rodney Lusk, of the Franconia District.

“Northern Virginia is fortunate to be such a prosperous community and region, but despite that prosperity, there are still pockets of great need that persist in this community,” Lusk said.

Springfield is a majority-minority community, and underserved compared with more wealthy towns and cities.

The average household income in Northern Virginia is $133,000, but he said some households in the Franconia District make $60,000 a year or lower.

The site is a short walk from the Franconia-Springfield Metro station, which also serves Virginia Railway Express, and is a Fairfax Connector bus hub.

Not everyone will use mass transit, according to Loudoun County Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, in her role as the chair of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

“We have also put in almost 90 miles of express lanes, from I-95, 495, 395, 66.”

She added, “What I’m saying is workers who want to come to work for the FBI will have multi-modal options to get to work.”

Maryland official blasts ‘rigged’ process

Some of the arguments made by leaders in Virginia drew a fiery response from Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who defended the two Maryland sites under consideration and blasted the fairness of the process, saying “it’s attempted to be rigged” at the last minute.

One of her main arguments was the emphasis being placed on the Virginia location’s proximity to Quantico. Alsobrooks admitted “you can’t out-Virginia, Virginia,” but also wondered why that proximity suddenly matters now.

“The books are being cooked in favor of Virginia,” said Alsobrooks. “This has been a 10-year process. Everyone with any level of honesty should look at the criteria… it wasn’t critical last June, July, or August. It wasn’t critical for the 10-years prior. It became critical in September of 2022.

“At the last minute it became critical — not only critical, it’s the No. 1 criteria. The whole thing stinks to high heaven and anyone who can’t smell that, something is wrong with their smelling.”

Maryland has made compliance with President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring equity be a factor in these types of federal decisions. Alsobrooks also sounded off on Virginia’s case for complying with that equity mandate.

“It is so intellectually dishonest of Virginia, and really, to be honest, quite laughable, that in this final hour they stood before the people and said ‘now equity is an argument that should be considered for Virginia,’” said Alsobrooks.

She added, “Although we house 20% of the federal work force, we only have 4% of the federal office jobs in Prince George’s County. It is time, really, that equity be considered in the way that the president intended.”

WTOP’s John Domen contributed to this report. 

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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