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Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Democratic senators urge President Biden to resume selection of new FBI headquarters

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U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), as well as Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), are urging President Joe Biden to resume the process of selecting a new home for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In a letter to the Biden administration, the four Congressmen requested that the General Services Administration and FBI return to finding a location for FBI headquarters that meets stringent security and logistical needs. The project was upended during the Trump administration.

Prior to the Trump administration, the GSA had narrowed down the list of potential locations to two sites in Prince George’s County, Md., and one site in Springfield, Va.

“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…,” the Senators wrote. “We urge you to address the need for a new consolidated FBI headquarters. While we recognize that the previous administration’s actions were a setback for the project, we request that GSA and FBI finalize the plan as soon as possible, focusing the renewed effort on the sites previously identified as the top candidates and making use of the completed Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the fullest extent possible.”

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee guided the framework for the project in 2011, which outlined the FBI’s needs and priorities – proximity to the Metro System and the Washington Beltway, minimum acreage, and a financing strategy that directed the GSA to enter into a private sector lease with a private firm to build a 2.1 million square foot, secure facility on federally owned land that would be leased to the FBI, with ownership of the facility reverting to the Federal government at the end of the lease for no additional cost.

“Congress has appropriated close to a billion dollars for this endeavor, between direct appropriations and transfer authorities, available until expended, and, according to the enacted FY21 Omnibus Appropriations bill, required GSA to submit a plan to the committees of jurisdiction consistent with a typical prospectus request by March 27, 2021,” the letter said. “As of this date, a plan has not been submitted, and although GSA continues to coordinate with FBI, it is unclear when the required report will be submitted to Congress.”

Moving forward, the Congressmen said, would create added risks, increase cost and escalate missed opportunities.