New FBI HQ in Md. or Va.? Members of Congress expect feds to move fast

The drive to build a new FBI headquarters has been hung up for years, but a U.S. senator from Maryland said it’s still on the way, and, “There’s no turning back.”

“We’re moving forward on this and it should happen in the coming years, and decisions will be made even sooner than that,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland.

Both parties have agreed for years on the need for a new facility, but the Trump Administration scuttled the project.

The three finalists from years ago — Greenbelt and Landover, in Maryland, and Springfield, Virginia — are still under consideration this time around. By the end of September, one of them is supposed to be chosen.

“Within an even shorter period of time, by mid-June, we should get an update from the General Services Administration … as to whether or not any of the three sites is no longer viable,” said Van Hollen.

“The new, consolidated headquarters for the FBI has been a top priority of mine in Congress for over a decade,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., in a statement to WTOP. But like every other elected leader in Maryland, he has stuck to praising both Maryland locations equally.

“Both of our sites in Maryland — the Greenbelt and Landover locations — are well-suited for the new headquarters and can offer the FBI what it needs to meet its demands and protect our national security,” said Hoyer, adding, “Bringing the headquarters to Prince George’s County will make the distribution of federal facilities more equitable in the National Capital Region.”

Elected leaders in Maryland have used the equity argument to support the relocation to Prince George’s County. But it’s not an argument that Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., thinks should influence the decision.

“We should not be looking at the economic externalities that would benefit a particular location,” Connolly said. “This is all about the mission of the FBI. What is best for the FBI and its mission as we look to the future?”

He said the Springfield site currently houses federally owned warehouses close to where the Franconia-Springfield Parkway crosses over Interstate 95, and said that should be the factor.

“We’re the only site that already has existing FBI infrastructure,” said Connolly. “The FBI training academy is in Quantico, Virginia, very close to the Springfield site. The FBI archives are in Winchester, Virginia. The Pentagon is in Arlington, Virginia. The CIA, with which the FBI collaborates on anti-terrorism matters, for example, is in Langley, Virginia. So the nexus for a lot of the work the FBI already does and needs to do is all in Virginia.”

Lawmakers in both states tout the number of current FBI employees who live in their districts.

Ultimately though, it doesn’t appear that lawmakers will be the one making the final decisions.

“The GSA and FBI together will determine which makes the most sense for the future FBI Headquarters,” Van Hollen said.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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