House Conservatives Seeking To Block Construction of New FBI Headquarters
Two states are beginning coordinated campaigns within the Beltway to become the home of the new headquarters despite conservative opposition to the project.
The years-long process to replace the FBI’s headquarters cleared a major hurdle last year with the allocation of funding for the project, but the path ahead could be stymied by President Trump’s congressional allies and the growing acrimony between the two states competing to host the building.
In December, Congress set aside $375 million for the construction of a new headquarters to replace the dilapidated J. Edgar Hoover Building at downtown Washington, D.C. The government is considering building the new offices in either Virginia or Maryland.
Congressman Matt Gaetz and some of his colleagues, though, are now calling for the project to be suspended amid disclosures that the bureau allegedly abused its power during the 2020 presidential election by attempting to suppress information at the behest of some elected officials.
Mr. Gaetz, along with five members of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, introduced legislation on Tuesday to halt all future construction on the project, saying in a statement that the FBI is “rotten to the core.”
“The cancer at the Washington Field Office has metastasized so large that the entire body is in critical condition,” Mr. Gaetz said in the statement. “Gifting the FBI a new headquarters larger than the Pentagon would condone, reinforce, and enable their nefarious behavior to levels we have never seen before.”
It remains to be seen how big a priority the attempted sabotage is for the six legislators, but with only a four-seat majority in the House, Speaker McCarthy may have to take their demands seriously.
As conservatives ramp up their fight against the FBI itself, two states are beginning coordinated campaigns within the Beltway to become the home of the new headquarters. Maryland or Virginia would benefit from millions of dollars in federal funding, an expanded tax base, and more job opportunities.
Earlier this month, Governor Moore penned an opinion piece in the Washington Post describing the key intelligence, security, and personnel benefits of building the new headquarters in Maryland.
“As home to Fort Meade, U.S. Cyber Command, the National Security Agency and other top-tier institutions such as the University of Maryland, our state has the brainpower and bandwidth to support efforts at the FBI to ramp up the fight against cybercrime and bolster cyberdefense,” Mr. Moore wrote. “The two Maryland sites under consideration are near key FBI facilities that could support the work happening in a consolidated headquarters.”
Governor Youngkin, along with Senators Kaine and Warner, wrote a letter in response to Mr. Moore last week describing the benefits of having the new headquarters in Virginia.
“Northern Virginia is home to a majority of the nation’s intelligence workforce and the largest population of cybersecurity companies and personnel on the East Coast — more than double the number in Maryland,” the three men wrote. “As the only site under consideration already owned by the federal government, the Springfield site would cost less than the competitor sites in Maryland.”
Congressman Steny Hoyer — the former House majority leader and dean of the Maryland delegation — recently said that a former FBI director, Robert Mueller, asked him for a new headquarters back in 2009. Over the course of the last decade, many have taken an interest in its completion, including President Trump.
In both 2013 and 2015, as the future president was closing on the real estate that eventually became the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, he allegedly contacted the General Services Administration concerning the FBI headquarters, according to the New York Times. The GSA oversees all real estate projects for the federal government.
For most of the 2010s, the government’s plan was to demolish the J. Edgar Hoover Building and create a new suburban campus outside of Washington, leaving the current real estate open to a commercial developer — right across the street from the Old Post Office building, which Mr. Trump had purchased.
During his tenure, the former president made an abrupt shift from his predecessors, recommending that the J. Edgar Hoover building be refurbished, not demolished. FBI personnel would then be consolidated on to the campuses of both the Hoover building and the bureau’s famous Quantico training academy in Virginia.
The Trump administration also recommended that new facilities be opened in Idaho, Alabama, and West Virginia for data analytics and explosives testing.
Ultimately, Congress never put money into Mr. Trump’s plan and it was relegated to the back burner during the coronavirus pandemic. It wasn’t until late last year that Senator Schumer pushed for a stipulation in a government funding bill that the GSA finally make its decision.