WASHINGTON — Maryland lawmakers are fuming over the Trump administration’s decision to nix the process that would have moved the FBI out of the 42-year-old J. Edgar Hoover building into the Beltway suburbs.
Three sites for a new consolidated headquarters have been in the running for a few years: Greenbelt, near the intersection of Interstates 95/495 and Exit 24 (Greenbelt Station) in Prince George’s County, Md., the site known of the former Landover Mall near the intersection of Interstates 95/495 and MD 202 in Prince George’s County, Md., and the GSA Franconia Warehouse Complex located near the intersection of Interstate 95 and Franconia Road in Fairfax County, Va.
A contract award to one of the proposals had been delayed twice, once at the end of the Obama administration and once this spring, because the General Services Administration was waiting for funding to begin even the initial environmental site review stage.
Today, the project was killed — and lawmakers decried the cancellation as a national security threat.
“GSA and FBI previously have stated that full funding is crucial for the government to make a contract award,” a GSA spokesperson said. “The fiscal year 2017 budget request included $1.4 billion for this project; however, the $523 million appropriated in 2017 leaves an $882 million funding gap. Moving forward without full funding puts the government at risk for cost escalations and the potential reduction in value of the J. Edgar Hoover property that developers were to receive as part of this procurement.”
In a joint statement today, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) said canceling the current request for proposals “for a fully consolidated FBI headquarters puts America’s national security at risk” because “the Hoover Building is crumbling around the FBI.”
“It is unfathomable that the Trump administration would fail to move forward on a secure headquarters for the FBI workforce that serves on the front lines of our nation’s law enforcement and counter terrorism efforts,” they added.
The GSA acknowledged in its statement that the cancellation of the project “does not lessen the need for a new FBI headquarters,” and added that “GSA and FBI will continue to work together to address the space requirements of the FBI.”
But the Maryland lawmakers noted that, considering the “immense resources and time” the involved states and counties have invested into development of the project, “to pull the plug on this procurement precipitously before the FY18 Appropriations process is even halfway complete is a waste of hundreds of millions of federal, state and local taxpayer dollars.”
“Our national security mandates that we move forward with building a secure, fully consolidated FBI headquarters. We strongly disagree with this decision,” they added. “If the Trump administration is unwilling to reconsider its position, then we urge GSA to move forward as quickly as possible by selecting one of the other various financing mechanisms identified and thoroughly examined by GSA.”