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White House urged to hold off on FBI HQ move to Maryland while review continues

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White House urged to hold off on FBI HQ move to Maryland while review continues

Dec 04, 2023 | 4:59 pm ET
By Jennifer Shutt Danielle E. Gaines
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White House urged to hold off on FBI HQ move to Maryland while review continues
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A law enforcement officer arrives at the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on January 28, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Virginia lawmakers are asking the Biden administration to “pause” work on a new headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation until a government watchdog can complete a review into how a Maryland site was selected.

The letter from 11 members of Virginia’s congressional delegation to Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, urges her agency to place a temporary hold on the project.

“It is vital that both GSA and the FBI fully cooperate and provide relevant information to the Inspector General’s review, and that they allow time and space for investigatory efforts to reach a thorough conclusion,” the Virginia lawmakers wrote. “We urge the Administration to pause efforts to advance this headquarters process, allowing for transparent and fair review.”

The General Services Administration has been working to select a location for the new FBI headquarters for well over a decade — ultimately narrowing down the choices to Greenbelt; Landover; and Springfield, Virginia.

The GSA selected Greenbelt as the location in early November, leading to celebrations in Maryland and frustrations from many of Virginia’s elected officials.

The agency’s acting Inspector General, at the urging of Virginia lawmakers, announced last week he was “initiating an evaluation of GSA’s selection of the site.”

“Our objective will be to assess the agency’s process and procedures for the site selection to relocate the FBI Headquarters,” Acting Inspector General Robert Erickson wrote.

Members of Virginia’s congressional delegation said Monday that work on the FBI headquarters should pause until that evaluation is complete. And they sought to emphasize concerns raised by FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“All of the parties involved, including GSA and the FBI, had previously stated publicly the need for a process that was fair, transparent, and determined by the merits of the prospective sites,” they wrote. “In light of the objections from the FBI, there is concern that this standard was not met. This process must be paused to allow for a fair and transparent review to address these concerns.”

Those members include Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats; Democratic Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, Jennifer McClellan, Bobby Scott, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton; and Republican Reps. Morgan Griffith, Jen Kiggans and Rob Wittman.

A lengthy list of Maryland lawmakers – the Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation, Gov. Wes Moore (D), Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller (D) and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) – issued a joint statement in response to the letter.

“In 2022, both the Virginia Delegation, as well as the Maryland Delegation, agreed that the GSA ought to make this site selection decision ‘expeditiously,’ to ensure the hardworking men and women of the FBI would have a headquarters that would meet their vital national security mission,” the lawmakers said. “Now, the Virginia Delegation believes that the process should only move expeditiously if that decision benefits Virginia.”

The officials, using the moniker “Team Maryland,” continued that they “remain confident that any Inspector General evaluation will find what we know to be true: the Greenbelt site won on the merits.”

They said the preparation of a prospectus for the move should continue in tandem with any investigator general evaluation.

“The only thing the delay requested by the Virginia Delegation would accomplish is to subject the FBI employees and the general public to a dangerous, unhealthy environment and substantially increase the cost to the taxpayer,” the statement concluded.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include a statement from Maryland lawmakers.