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Maryland lawmakers hold out hope on new FBI headquarters

Maryland lawmakers are holding out hope that they can persuade the Trump administration to reconsider its decision to rebuild the FBI headquarters in downtown Washington — instead of moving it to suburban Maryland or northern Virginia as once planned.

The House Appropriations Committee approved language in a spending bill Thursday recommending that no new funding be included for the administration’s Washington headquarters proposal “because many questions regarding the new plan remain unanswered.”

Maryland opponents of the administration’s plan have said rebuilding the existing J. Edgar Hoover Building raises security questions for the law enforcement agency and would mean employees would be scattered at different sites in the city instead of in one building.

In 2014, the General Services Administration had said the project would be built at one of three locations: Greenbelt or Landover in Maryland, or Springfield, Va.

The Trump administration said in February it was reversing course. It said its plan would include a worthy building and a better deal for taxpayers.

The move was a significant blow to Maryland and Virginia, which had been competing for years for the project and its anticipated 11,000 jobs.

“I applaud the House Appropriations Committee for allocating no new funding for the FBI headquarters project until the Trump administration can answer questions as to why they proposed to rebuild the facility at the current site in downtown D.C.,” Rep. Steny Hoyer, a southern Maryland Democrat, said in a statement Thursday.

Hoyer said the new plan “doesn’t meet the security requirements required by the FBI and doesn’t fully consolidate the headquarters.”

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat and Appropriations Committee member, introduced an amendment during Thursday’s hearing encouraging the administration to submit a prospectus for a proposed new headquarters in Greenbelt, Landover or Springfield.

Ruppersberger withdrew the amendment, his office said, because he received a commitment from the panel’s Republican leadership to work with him on alternative locations for the headquarters in addition to the current site.

The issue was part of consideration of the commerce, justice and science appropriations bill for the 2019 fiscal year.

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