Greenbelt has been selected by the General Services Administration as the site of a new FBI headquarters following more than a decade of jockeying pitting Maryland against Virginia.
Two Prince George’s County sites, Greenbelt and Landover, had been competing with Springfield, Virginia, to be the home for the new headquarters to replace the outdated J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington, D.C.
The announcement by the General Services Administration on Wednesday night is a significant win for Gov. Wes Moore, the Maryland congressional delegation and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.
They all lobbied for the project, with its thousands of jobs and bragging rights.
GSA said in a prepared statement that it determined Greenbelt to be the best site “because it was the lowest cost to taxpayers, provided the greatest transportation access to FBI employees and visitors, and gave the government the most certainty on project delivery schedule. It also provided the highest potential to advance sustainability and equity.”
But Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine issued a joint statement saying GSA made the wrong choice. “We’re deeply disappointed that despite the clear case that Virginia is the best home for the FBI, the Administration went a different direction,” the Democratic senators said.
The competition dates back more than a decade. In 2014, the GSA had said the project would be built at one of the three locations that were ultimately considered. The administration of former President Donald Trump instead proposed a new facility in downtown Washington.
“GSA looks forward to building the FBI a state-of-the-art headquarters campus in Greenbelt to advance their critical mission for years to come,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan.
In June, Moore asked Maryland’s congressional delegation in a memorandum to “continue to put pressure” on the GSA to ensure a “fair process” that would determine whether the state will land the new offices.
“This is a historic moment for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and our nation,” Moore, Alsobrooks and Democratic members of the Maryland congressional delegation said in a joint statement Wednesday night. “For decades, the dilapidated J. Edgar Hoover Building has failed to meet the FBI’s operational needs, which has undermined our national security. The once fabled building has crumbled before our eyes, with nets surrounding the facility for years to protect pedestrians from falling debris.”
The statement said the decision “will ensure we fulfill the FBI’s dire, longstanding need for a new consolidated headquarters that meets the modern-day demands on the Bureau’s work to protect Americans and our nation.” It was signed by Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and the seven Democrats in the state’s U.S. House delegation.
The Morning Sun
Maryland lawmakers had previously expressed concern that the GSA, which manages federal government buildings, appeared to be giving too much weight to choosing a location close to the FBI training center in Quantico, Virginia.
The Maryland delegation said the FBI presented a document earlier in the spring saying proximity was central to its ability to respond to significant events. The delegation took issue with that assessment and said other factors, such as cost and equity, should be paramount.
Moore’s memorandum requested that the lawmakers “put pressure on the administration and GSA to revise their selection criteria to ensure a fair process.”
Warner and Kaine, the Virginia senators. said in their statement that “it’s especially disappointing that the FBI’s initial criteria for this decision — developed independently by the GSA and affirmed by Congress just last year — were changed at the 11th hour by the Administration following political pressure.”
In March, Moore and other state Democrats wrote to President Joe Biden saying that Prince George’s, a majority Black county, would be a prudent fiscal choice and present an opportunity “to right the wrongs of decades of systemic racism and discrimination by our nation’s marquis law enforcement agency.”
Some House Republicans had threatened to try to cut funding for the multibillion-dollar project — or the FBI in general — because they believe the bureau has become politicized under Biden’s administration.
But Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Wednesday night that “We have already secured the resources needed to get shovels in the ground to start this project” and that he was committed to securing full funding.