Possible Hold Up of FBI Headquarters Funding Slammed by Democrats
“Reasonable people can debate where the new FBI headquarters should be located, but there is no question that a new headquarters is desperately needed,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.
Democrats who have been vying for the new FBI headquarters to go to their state slammed Republicans over reports that there have been talks of holding up funding for the project over their concerns of alleged politicization of the bureau's investigations.
The Washington Times and Politico reported on May 24 and May 25 respectively, that Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee have discussed blocking funding for the new FBI headquarters, which has been a long and arduous process to make happen. There are three options on the table for the headquarters: Greenbelt and Landover, Md., and Springfield, Va. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is quoted in both pieces calling out the “blatant hypocrisy” of Republicans. Others echoed his indignation.
“Reasonable people can debate where the new FBI headquarters should be located, but there is no question that a new headquarters is desperately needed,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who has been advocating for the new headquarters to be in Virginia, told Government Executive in a statement on Tuesday. “Any effort to halt or delay the relocation will further strain the FBI and puts federal law enforcement efforts at risk.” He also said that “Republicans are carrying water for Donald Trump” whose “twisted hatred for the men and women of the FBI is well documented.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., ranking member of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said, “MAGA efforts to defund the FBI and obstruct its work hit an appalling new low with this move to block the long-awaited new FBI headquarters” in reference to the reports. He underscored the need for a new headquarters, which has been “until now [a] bipartisan priority for federal law enforcement.”
Carter Elliot, press secretary for Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, said, “the calls from the far-right Republicans to defund the FBI are egregious and dangerous–it is the exact opposite approach we need to address public safety.”
As for selecting one of the two Maryland locations for the new headquarters, Moore, along with the Maryland lawmakers, “are doing everything possible to show the Biden administration that not only is this decision in the best interest of Maryland but for the FBI as well.”
The office of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, did not respond for comment.
The FBI declined to comment. A GSA spokesperson did not respond directly to Government Executive’s question about the report, but shared a previous statement after the agency held its consultation meetings with representatives from each state on the selection process.
“GSA and FBI are committed to fully considering feedback from stakeholders as we work to ensure a fair and transparent process that results in a site that will best serve the FBI and the American people for generations to come,” said the spokesperson. “GSA and FBI are in the process of deliberately considering the input we received as part of the latest round of consultations to determine next steps on the site selection process.”
Government Executive reached out to the office of Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., who told The Washington Times that the funding is in “definite jeopardy,” but they did not respond for comment.
The Justice Department says in its budget request for fiscal 2024 that the “J. Edgar Hoover building can no longer support the long-term mission of the FBI” and “major building systems are near end-of-life and structural issues continue to mount, making the current building unsustainable.” For the new suburban campus, the budget proposes $3.5 billion, which would come from the Federal Capital Revolving Fund, which would be repaid by the Federal Buildings Fund in 15 annual amounts of $233 million. This “would be paired with $645 million in GSA prior year appropriations to support the acquisition and construction of the FBI’s new suburban headquarters campus,” said the budget documents.
In addition to the suburban campus, GSA and the FBI are looking for a federally owned location in Washington, D.C., for the FBI to have a small presence near the White House, Congress and other partners. “The administration plans to use existing balances in the FBI’s account previously appropriated for the new headquarters effort to build out a downtown D.C. location to support the FBI’s mission.”