All four of Virginia and Maryland’s US senators want President Biden to restart the search for a new FBI headquarters, a process that was under way until former President Trump knocked it off-track.
Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia sent Biden a letter Friday asking him to direct the Department of Justice and the General Services Agency to “move forward expeditiously” with the plan to move the agency off Pennsylvania Avenue, where its brutalist headquarters is falling apart and is just one of more than a dozen sites in the region across which FBI employees are spread. The GSA named three sites around Washington in 2014 where the agency could consolidate its operations: one near the Greenbelt Metro station, one at the former Landover Mall, and another in Springfield.
Trump operates a hotel nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue that would face competition if the current site of the J. Edgar Hoover Building were to become another hotel. He framed his objections to the current building as a matter of aesthetics, however, rather than economic uncertainty: “Honestly, I think it’s one of the ugliest buildings in the city,” he told Axios. He scotched plans to move the FBI out of the District and repeatedly tried to get the current building replaced, to the annoyance of many of his fellow Republicans.
Congress has appropriated nearly a billion dollars for GSA to finalize plans for a new site, including an environmental impact statement. GSA was required to submit a plan by last month, which didn’t happen, the lawmakers’ letter notes: “Despite the political obstacles of recent years, we hope you will consider our request and provide the direction needed for this crucial project to move forward expeditiously.”