Maryland won’t be getting the coveted new headquarters for the FBI – but neither will Virginia.
Local, state and federal lawmakers from both states had been campaigning for years to get the federal General Services Administration to build the $2.5 billion new facility on their territory. The project would bring with it lucrative construction contracts, along with about 11,000 jobs within the agency. However, as first reported by The Washington Post Monday, Trump’s administration will officially cancel that expensive, years-long search.
GSA officials this morning notified three developers that had proposed building the new headquarters in Landover, Md., Greenbelt, Md., or Springfield, Va., of their decision. The news shocked lawmakers, who were expecting an announcement soon about which side of the Potomac would house the new FBI grounds, rather than an outright cancellation.
“Moving forward without full funding puts the government at risk for cost escalations and the potential reduction in value of the J. Edgar Hoover property that developers were to receive as part of this procurement,” the GSA said in a statement. “The cancellation of the project does not lessen the need for a new FBI headquarters. GSA and FBI will continue to work together to address the space requirements of the FBI.”
The agency’s iconic Hoover building on Pennsylvania Avenue has long been crumbling. Senior officials have pushed for years for the government to build the FBI a safe, new modern space that matches its mission to defend the country against the most advanced international threats, rather than one with makeshift offices built out of storage space.
The warning signs may have apparent. Trump’s administration neglected to include funds for the project in its proposed fiscal 2018 budget, and the GSA postponed announcements about its pick for the new location twice in the last 12 months.
But there was hope. In spring, when Congress unveiled its omnibus budget bill to fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal 2017, it included $523 million to cover initial work for the project. The budget line was enough to renew “Pick us! Pick us!” calls from the likes of Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Reps. Steny Hoyer and Anthony Brown.
But in another red-flag moment, a House appropriations committee last month pulled $200 million of funding for the project.
Hoyer said he was surprised about the Trump administration’s choice. “This is an extremely alarming development,” he said in a statement to Arlington-based TV station WJLA. “By canceling the current FBI headquarters relocation procurement process, the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress are putting the safety and security of our country at risk.”
Van Hollen told Federal News Radio the reported cancellation is “deeply troubling and something I would strongly oppose. At a time when President Trump refused to fund a new headquarters in his budget and has repeatedly attacked the FBI and its employees, this would be unacceptable.”
Gov. Larry Hogan has also pushed for the GSA to choose Maryland for the project. Hannah Marr, a spokeswoman for his office, called the decision “another incredibly disappointing example of the dysfunction that has been typical of Washington, D.C. for too long.”
“We share the deep frustration of everyone impacted by this shortsighted decision,” she said in a statement. “The Hogan administration will continue working with Maryland’s federal delegation to ensure that our state remains the top site for any possible FBI headquarters relocation in the future.”