FBI headquarters in Virginia or Maryland: Who favors what? Biden vs. Virginia senators
Roanoke, Virginia – The FBI has been headquartered at the J. Edgar Hoover building in downtown Washington, D.C., since 1977. But for more than a decade, the agency has been seeking a new home that would meet its security and operational needs.
The process of relocating the FBI headquarters has been fraught with delays, controversies, and political interventions. The agency initially considered three possible locations: Greenbelt and Landover in Maryland, and Springfield in Virginia. However, in 2018, then-President Donald Trump abruptly canceled the relocation plan and proposed to demolish and rebuild the existing headquarters instead.
This decision sparked outrage and criticism from lawmakers and watchdog groups, who accused Trump of having a conflict of interest because his hotel was located across the street from the FBI building. They also argued that keeping the headquarters in D.C. would limit the space and functionality of the agency.
In 2020, Congress passed a bipartisan bill that required the FBI to resume its search for a new headquarters and allocated $1.1 billion for the project. The bill also stipulated that the new site should be within two miles of a Metro station and within 2.5 miles of Interstate 495.
President Joe Biden revived the debate on where to relocate the FBI headquarters in March 2021, when he included $1.4 billion for the project in his infrastructure proposal .However ,the final location has not been announced yet ,and some officials are concerned that Biden might favor Maryland over Virginia because he was born there and represented neighboring Delaware as a senator for 36 years.
The General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees federal real estate projects, is expected to announce its recommendation for the new FBI headquarters site by March 2023.
Senator Tim Kaine, a distinguished Democrat from Virginia, recently pledged to withhold any negative comments regarding Maryland’s bid to secure the new FBI headquarters on its side of the Potomac River. However, despite his promise, he, along with his fellow senator Mark Warner, had nothing commendable to say about the attempts made by Maryland Governor Wes Moore to persuade President Joe Biden to interfere in the matter.
Following Governor Glenn Youngkin and other leaders of Virginia’s final plea to secure the federally owned site in Fairfax County, both senators emphasized that President Biden should avoid getting involved in the selection process. This is due to the fact that, in the past, then-President Donald Trump had also intervened, ultimately resulting in the halting of the decision-making process regarding a new headquarters site nearly five years ago.
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia has refrained from criticizing Maryland’s bid to obtain the new FBI headquarters, however, he has expressed his disappointment towards Maryland Governor Wes Moore’s actions, while also urging President Biden to refrain from interfering in the matter, citing previous incidents of political involvement causing complications in the process.
“We don’t think asking someone to put their thumb on the scale makes any sense,” Kaine told reporters after a three-hour, closed-door presentation at the General Services Administration headquarters here on Thursday morning.
Maryland Governor, Wes Moore, who made history by becoming the third elected Black governor in the United States, has recently led the state’s campaign to bring the FBI headquarters to one of the two proposed sites located in Prince George’s County. The governor has passionately expressed his concerns over the persistent neglect of the county, despite it being a majority-Black suburban region located just outside the nation’s capital.
In an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Tuesday, Governor Moore emphasized that the decision to choose the FBI headquarters’ site presents an opportunity for President Joe Biden to execute two executive orders aimed at advancing the goal of racial equity. The governor has implored President Biden to prioritize this matter and take appropriate measures to address racial disparities and inequalities.
Governor Wes Moore’s stance is reflective of his commitment to promoting racial equity and social justice. He seeks to highlight the importance of addressing the neglect faced by marginalized communities, especially in critical decisions such as the site selection for the new FBI headquarters.
“Biden and I are both committed to lifting Black communities and closing the racial wealth gap, and moving the FBI to our state would help us do exactly that,” Moore wrote.
Virginia leaders have recently defended their proposal for the Springfield site to house the new FBI headquarters, stating that it is the most suitable location for the agency. They have justified their decision, highlighting that the Springfield site is already owned by the government, strategically located close to the FBI’s training academy at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, and easily accessible through various modes of transportation such as highways, transit, and rail.
In addition, Virginia leaders have vehemently opposed Maryland’s claim that the Springfield site would incur an additional cost of $1 billion to relocate the current federal government tenant. Senator Mark Warner, in particular, has categorically denied these allegations and stated that the federal government tenant intends to relocate, regardless of the FBI’s decision.
The Virginia leaders’ firm position on the Springfield site stems from their conviction that it aligns with the FBI’s mission and strategic goals. Their commitment to ensuring the agency’s operational efficiency and effectiveness is commendable, and they believe that the Springfield site will be instrumental in achieving this objective.
“Choosing Springfield would also represent a strong commitment to advancing equity in underserved communities,” the Virginia delegation said in a joint statement on Thursday from Youngkin, Warner, Kaine and eight of the state’s 11 representatives in Congress, including newly installed Rep. Jennifer McClellan, D-4th.
The recent statement issued by Virginia’s Governor and delegation regarding the FBI headquarters’ proposed site has received significant attention from various political leaders. However, it is worth noting that three conservative Republican representatives, Bob Good of the 5th District, Ben Cline of the 6th, and Morgan Griffith of the 9th, were not included in the statement. These representatives have also refrained from signing the letter sent by the governor and delegation to the General Services Administration (GSA) and FBI leadership last month, which contained similar arguments.
Maryland’s argument in favor of their proposed site for the FBI headquarters is centered on the comparative wealth of Fairfax, where the average household earns $40,000 more than in Prince George’s. However, Virginia leaders have countered this argument, stating that the Springfield area and the surrounding regions are as diverse and culturally rich as any other communities in the country. The Virginia leaders have highlighted the region’s demographic makeup, which underscores their commitment to promoting inclusivity and diversity. They believe that the Springfield site is a fitting location for the FBI headquarters, which will enable the agency to thrive and contribute positively to the surrounding community.
“Equity in America today and equity in terms of the needs of the FBI reflect racial equity, reflect faith-based equity, reflect ethnic equity,” said Warner, citing the African American, Latino and Asian-Pacific Island population in the region.
“To ignore the broad breadth of equity in America would be a huge disappointment,” he said.
The senators leading Virginia’s campaign for the new FBI headquarters have made efforts to bolster their state’s argument by showcasing the diversity and inclusivity of the region. To this end, they have included several notable personalities in their campaign. Gregory Washington, the African American president of George Mason University, which is known for its ethnic diversity, was present at the news conference. Irma Becerra, the Hispanic president of Marymount University, an Arlington County Catholic institution, was also present to lend support to Virginia’s campaign.
Adam Lee, a former FBI special agent and Dominion Energy’s chief security officer, was also in attendance. The senators have highlighted his expertise and experience in security matters as a testament to Virginia’s commitment to ensuring the FBI’s safety and security. The presence of Prince William County Supervisor Andrea Bailey, whose Potomac District includes the FBI Training Academy at Quantico, further underscores the state’s commitment to the FBI’s success and its role in promoting diversity and inclusivity in the region.
Senators’ approach to highlighting the diversity and expertise of Virginia’s population underscores the state’s commitment to promoting inclusivity and diversity in its institutions. This approach has the potential to resonate with decision-makers and lend weight to Virginia’s campaign for the new FBI headquarters.