Maryland, Virginia senators urge Biden to resume plans for new FBI headquarters

This article was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

This content was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

Maryland and Virginia senators have joined together to urge President Joe Biden to resume plans to build a new Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters, which could be built in either state.

The bureau’s current headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C. – the J. Edgar Hoover Building – “has crumbling facades, aging infrastructure, and security limitations that are severely impeding the FBI’s ability to meet its critical law enforcement and national security missions,” wrote Maryland’s U.S. Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Virginia’s Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, all Democrats.

The letter was sent Friday.

In 2014, the federal General Services Administration narrowed the list of potential new headquarters locations to two sites in Prince George’s County, and one site in Springfield, Va.

But shortly after President Trump took office, his administration decided to keep the current headquarters, which is on the same block as the Trump International Hotel.

“The Trump Administration’s move in 2017 to cancel the project ignored the intent of Congress and scrapped years’ worth of planning, organizing, and resources devoted to the project. Inquiries by members of the House of Representatives and the Senate into the White House’s role in canceling the project were met with obfuscation by agency officials,” the senators wrote.

The lawmakers underscored Congress’ support for the move through years of policy and budget action.

Most recently, the Trump administration advocated for funding to renovate the existing FBI headquarters in a COVID-19 relief package, a move which congress rejected.

“For more than a decade, the condition and security of the FBI’s existing headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. have been serious concerns of Congress, which has provided authorizations and appropriations for a new consolidated headquarters at one of three previously identified sites. Unfortunately, the previous administration undermined this project, requiring your urgent attention to put it back on track,” the senators wrote.

A 2018 inspector general’s report concluded that rebuilding the headquarters at its current location would cost more than relocation, and would accommodate 2,306 fewer employees than a consolidated suburban facility.

Congress has been pushing for a new headquarters for more than a decade.

In 2011, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a resolution calling for a new 2.1 million square-foot facility to be constructed on federal land near the D.C. Metro system and the Washington Beltway.

“While we recognize that the previous administration’s actions were a setback for the project, we request that [the General Services Administration] and FBI finalize the plan as soon as possible, focusing the renewed effort on the sites previously identified as the top candidates,” the lawmakers wrote.

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