Virginia lawmakers, frustrated by the federal government’s decision to build a new FBI headquarters in Maryland, are asking budget officials to put a hold on the project.
It’s the latest maneuver from Virginia politicians, whose bid to put the new complex in Springfield lost out to a site adjacent to the Greenbelt Metro Station in Prince George’s County. They already succeeded in getting the inspector general for the U.S. General Services Administration to review the project.
“We urge the Administration to pause efforts to advance this headquarters process, allowing for transparent and fair review,” the Virginia lawmakers wrote to the U.S. Office of Budget and Management on Monday. The letter was signed by both of Virginia’s U.S. senators and nine members of the House of Representatives.
Maryland officials responded to the Virginia letter with a statement reiterating their confidence that Greenbelt won the FBI project fair and square.
“As we have said before, we remain confident that any Inspector General evaluation will find what we know to be true: the Greenbelt site won on the merits,” the statement read. It was sent on behalf of Gov. Wes Moore, Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, both of Maryland’s U.S. senators, and the seven Democrats in the House.
The Maryland statement insisted that the inspector general review and the planning process for the project can move “in tandem.”
“The Inspector General evaluation has no bearing on the preparation of a prospectus for the new headquarters; therefore, 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 Maryland statement read.
The FBI began the process to seek a new headquarters to replace the aging J. Edgar Hoover building in the District of Columbia more than a decade ago.
After a drawn-out process that, at one point, had been shelved, the U.S. General Services Administration narrowed the options to three: Springfield; Greenbelt; and a second Prince George’s County location in Landover.
The GSA picked Greenbelt as the winner this fall, noting its proximity to mass transit, overall cost and opportunity to advance economic development and equity in the community. Springfield ranked higher for proximity to other FBI activities, namely its training facility in Quantico, Virginia.
Politicians from the two states have gone back and forth over the process, with Virginia questioning why the final decision from a top GSA official differed from a lower advisory panel that recommended Springfield. The Virginia contingent also took issue with a reweighting of the different factors that were considered.
The two states fought vigorously for years to land the project, which is expected to bring 7,500 jobs and a boost of prestige to the new location. It’s unclear what the timetable may be for the project to be funded and built.