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Biden brings back plans to move FBI headquarters to suburbs in 2023 budget request

Federal News Network

The Biden administration is planning to move the FBI’s headquarters out of the District of Columbia and build a new campus in suburban Virginia or Maryland.

The White House, in its fiscal 2023 budget request released Monday said the FBI’s current headquarters at the J. Edgar Hoover building in downtown D.C. “can no longer support the long-term mission of the FBI.”

“The FBI has begun a multi-year process of constructing a modern, secure suburban facility from which the FBI can continue its mission to protect the American people,” the administration wrote.

Over the next year, the General Services Administration and the FBI will work to identify a location to construct a federally owned, modern and secure facility in the suburbs for at least 7,500 personnel.

Congress, as part of the recently passed fiscal 2022 omnibus spending bill, already requested a briefing from the FBI and GSA on the viability of relocating the headquarters to one of three potential sites:  Greenbelt, Maryland; Landover, Maryland; or Springfield, Virginia.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who led efforts to block the Trump administration’s plans to build a new FBI headquarters in D.C.,  applauded the Biden administration for planning to construct a new FBI headquarters in the suburbs.

“We’re very pleased that the president’s budget will include a new headquarters campus for the FBI that provides the security that they need in order to do their jobs and can accommodate the consolidation of the FBI,” Van Hollen told Federal News Network on Monday.

Congress, in the omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2022, directed GSA to brief the House and Senate appropriations committees on the viability of moving the FBI headquarters to one of three sites in suburban Maryland or Virginia, no later than 90 days after the bill passed.

Van Hollen, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he’d ensure Congress supports the administration’s requests for construction funding in subsequent budget cycles.

“We worked hard to include the language we did in the omnibus bill, requiring that this move happen, and that we get back to where we were before the Trump administration, and we’ll be fighting to make sure the resources are available,” Van Hollen said.

The Biden administration, in its budget request, said GSA and the FBI over the next year will finalize an updated program of requirements for a secure suburban campus, as part of their respective budget requests for 2024.

Those updated requirements, the White House added, will include the final number of personnel expected to work in the new headquarters.

Van Hollen joined Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.),  Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Governor Larry Hogan (R-Md.) and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D-Md.) in applauding the administration’s vision for a new FBI headquarters.

“The president’s budget is evidence that his administration is serious about moving forward with a consolidated headquarters that can effectively serve the American people,” the group wrote. “We look forward to working with President Biden and his administration to continue advancing this project, and are confident the Maryland sites in Greenbelt and Landover are the best locations for a consolidated FBI headquarters location.”

GSA will also begin initial steps to acquire, if necessary, the site for the new suburban location.

The White House said it “recognizes the critical need for a new FBI headquarters,” but would not fully move out of Washington, D.C. under this proposal.

The administration calls for GSA and the FBI to identify a federally owned location in D.C. that can accommodate 750 to 1,000 FBI personnel that would support day-to-day FBI engagement with the Justice Department’s headquarters, the White House and Congress.

The Biden administration, through this effort, is dusting off plans that began under the Obama administration to move the FBI headquarters to a campus in the suburbs.

GSA under the Obama administration proposed awarding the J. Edgar Hoover site to a developer as part of the payment for constructing a new suburban FBI headquarters.

Those plans fell apart, however, when the Trump administration reversed course and proposed building a new FBI headquarters on the site of the J. Edgar Hoover building.

The Trump administration sought $3.3 billion to demolish the J. Edgar Hoover building and construct a new headquarters in its place.

Accounting for previously appropriated funds, the GSA inspector general found the administration needed more than $2 billion to move forward with the project.

Congress, however, passed annual spending bills that effectively blocked the Trump administration from using any funds to construct a new FBI headquarters in D.C.

Former President Donald Trump, despite opposition from Senate Republicans, also requested $1.8 billion for a DC-based FBI headquarters as part of a 2020 emergency COVID-19 spending bill.

Congress ultimately blocked the administration’s request.

The  FBI has been discussing a new consolidated headquarters with GSA since 2014. These plans would consolidate the headquarters employees currently located at the Hoover building and other leased locations in the national capital region.

The FBI, meanwhile, has focused on expanding the bureau’s footprint at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

The bureau, as of last year, had about 860 employees in Huntsville, but expects to have 3,400 working out of Redstone Arsenal by 2026.

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