WASHINGTON — Maryland lawmakers on Tuesday slammed the General Services Administration’s proposal to build a new FBI headquarters in downtown Washington instead of Prince George’s County, saying it was a waste of taxpayers time and money.
Attempts to find a new location were scrapped last year in response to a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing in August. Instead, in a report to the panel, the GSA suggested demolishing the J. Edgar Hoover Building, which has been the home of the FBI since 1974, and rebuilding on the same site.
President Donald Trump supported creating a new home for the FBI in the district, setting aside funds in the proposed infrastructure plan in his administration’s proposed fiscal 2019 budget.
“The concept of a consolidated FBI that would house 11,000 employees was well thought out and supported by both the Bush and Obama administrations,” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III said in a statement. “Not only have resources and money been wasted, but more importantly, we are no closer to providing the American people the increased security and safety they desperately need from a consolidated and high security campus.”
“For Prince George’s County, it would have been a major boost for the local economy having that type of synergy from the FBI’s location in the county,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, attending a conference in Washington, told Capital News Service “I was disappointed” with the FBI decision but answered no other questions.
In Trump’s plan, $2.2 billion would be allocated to the headquarters, in addition to $523 million appropriated by Congress for a new building in 2017.
The total cost of demolishing and rebuilding at the same site is estimated at $3.3 billion, according to the consolidation plan.
The FBI building funding is part of a $199 billion infrastructure plan containing projects that span the next 10 years.
“Time and time again, Congress was told that the FBI needed a new, fully consolidated headquarters in order to complete its vital national security mission,” House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, said in a statement. “It was made clear that building a new headquarters at the Pennsylvania Avenue location would not achieve that objective and be exceedingly costly for taxpayers.”
Instead of consolidating the workers in Springfield, Virginia, or Greenbelt or Landover, Maryland, the FBI’s headquarters in the district would displace some employees to states as far away as Alabama, Idaho and West Virginia according to the GSA’s presentation to the Senate committee.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said Monday that approximately 20 percent of the workers would be sent to locations around the country.
“We’re going to be fighting this decision,” Van Hollen told Capital News Service on Tuesday. “They have reneged on the commitment to consolidate the FBI on a different campus in a more secure location.”
A Trump tweet Tuesday defended his infrastructure plan, claiming it had “received great reviews by everyone except, of course, the Democrats.”
“The president’s budget doesn’t add up,” said Cardin. “We have a budget that is not balanced either in its revenues or in its priorities for the American people.”