New FBI headquarters site on hold until Congress secures funding

New FBI headquarters site on hold until Congress secures funding.

Plans to relocate the Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters from Washington have been put on hold until Congress approves funding, the General Services Administration announced Friday.

Virginia and Maryland officials have been competing for years to land the proposed the 2.1 million-square-foot FBI headquarters, which would house roughly 11,000 employees, making it one of the largest federal facilities in either state.

The FBI and the GSI have selected Greenbelt and Landover in Prince George's County and Springfield, Va., as possible sites for the new campus to replace the deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington and bring together employees who are currently spread over more than 20 locations.

Members of the Maryland delegation expressed concern about Friday's announcement.

"We recognize the urgent need to select a site, and are concerned that the continued delays will have a negative impact on the safety and security of our nation," Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Reps. Steny H. Hoyer and Anthony G. Brown said in a joint statement.

They are among the Maryland officials who have waged a hard-fought campaign to bring what is expected to be a more than $2 billion construction project to Maryland. Former Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and other members of the delegation helped secure $390 million in federal funding for the project late in 2015. Another $255 million was approved in December.

The GSA had planned to identify a preferred site in December and issue an environmental impact statement, but then delayed the announcement until spring. The GSA said Friday it needed Congress to approve funds before continuing with the process.

"Appropriations are necessary in order for us to make an announcement and move forward with the next critical steps ... and ultimately make an award," the GSA statement said.

Cardin, Van Hollen, Hoyer and Brown called on Congress to fully fund a new site in Prince George's County, which will be "not only important for the economic development of Prince George's County, but for the state of Maryland, and our nation as a whole."

Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said he'd have preferred to have a decision by now, but he remains confident that one of the Maryland sites will be selected. He said there has been no indication that the delays reflect any less commitment to building a new FBI campus.

"No one from the Trump administration has come and said they didn't want the process to move forward," Baker said. "No one's stopping the project."

Federal officials have long argued for a new FBI facility. The General Accounting Office said in 2011 that the crumbling Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue could no longer accommodate the FBI's security needs. Multiple jurisdictions competed to lure the FBI. The GSA announced its shortlist of Greenbelt, Landover and Springfield in 2014.

Trump has called for cuts in government spending and reductions in the federal workforce. But, as Baker noted, he also "has put high priority on security," which he said should bode well for plans to provide the FBI with new headquarters.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in November that Trump's victory should make it a "slam dunk" for Maryland to land the FBI facility. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has long been closely allied to Hillary Clinton.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Hogan said the "administration remains confident that both the Greenbelt and Landover sites are far superior options for the FBI relocation."

"While this second delay is disappointing, the governor will continue to lead the fight to secure this opportunity for Maryland, as he has for the past two years," spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox contributed to this article.

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