Federal officials have chosen a site in Prince George’s County, Maryland, over a site in Springfield, Virginia, to build a new FBI headquarters that will replace the agency’s downtown D.C. location, according to the Washington Post which reports that the new FBI headquarters campus will be built on a 61-acre site near the Greenbelt Metro station as part of a mixed-use development.
Top Virginia lawmakers expressed disappointment with the decision, accusing the Biden administration of allowing politics to play a role in the headquarters selection process.
For more than 10 years, Virginia and Maryland leaders tried to convince decision-makers on the merits of their preferred location.
Under President Donald Trump, though, plans to build a new FBI headquarters in the D.C. suburbs came to a halt when the FBI proposed keeping some of its employees at the downtown Washington, D.C., location and moving 2,300 employees to Alabama, Idaho and West Virginia. In 2021, the process to pick a new headquarters site in the D.C. suburbs resumed when Congress passed a funding bill for a new headquarters.
On Wednesday night, Maryland officials celebrated the General Services Administration's decision to build the new headquarters in Prince George’s County.
"After a thorough deliberation process and consideration of stakeholder input, the GSA selected the Greenbelt site as the location for the new FBI headquarters," Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and members of Maryland's congressional delegation said in a statement. "The GSA’s analysis of the facts and its consultations revealed that the Greenbelt site is the most fitting site of the three final candidates when all factors were considered together."
As Patch reports, GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan confirmed that the Greenbelt location had been selected as the new site for the FBI headquarters.
“GSA looks forward to building the FBI a state-of-the-art headquarters campus in Greenbelt to advance their critical mission for years to come,” Carnahan said.
The three final sites that were under review by the GSA were the Greenbelt site, a site in Landover, Maryland, and the Springfield location. The three final sites were selected in 2014 by the GSA.
The GSA's decision was a blow to Virginia’s two senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, who all lobbied for the Springfield site, close to the FBI’s Quantico training site.
“We are proud here in Fairfax County to have every single infrastructure asset and human asset necessary to make this enormously successful for the FBI and their employees,” McKay said at a news conference earlier this year.
McKay has been fighting for Fairfax County to win the FBI headquarters for more than a decade, including when he was the supervisor for the Franconia District, which was then called the Lee District.
On Wednesday, Warner and Kaine, in a statement, expressed disappointment with the GSA's decision, saying Virginia had made a "clear case" that the Springfield location was the best site.
"It’s especially disappointing that the FBI’s initial criteria for this decision — developed independently by the GSA and affirmed by Congress just last year — were changed at the 11th hour by the Administration following political pressure," said Warner and Kaine. "We spent years appropriately criticizing the last Administration for politicizing the new FBI headquarters—only for a new Administration to come in and allow politics to taint the selection process."
Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly, whose 11th congressional district includes Springfield, criticized the decision.
“GSA caved to political pressure,” Connolly said in a statement. “GSA’s reputation for objective procurement free from politics has taken a mortal hit today from which it will struggle to recover for years into the future.”
The Maryland officials countered that their efforts to bring the FBI headquarters "was never about politics."
"It was always about making the case for what is best for the FBI, our region, and the country," they said. "Considering cost to the taxpayer, equity, construction timeline, transportation access, and the FBI’s mission requirements, we have long believed that Greenbelt is the best site for this crucial facility. We are pleased that the GSA arrived at the same conclusion."
On July 14, the GSA announced it had updated the site selection plan for the new FBI headquarters site to increase the consideration of cost to taxpayers and to reflect the Biden administration’s commitment to sustainability and equity. In response to the updated plan, Maryland officials welcomed the administration's decision to align the FBI headquarters selection process with the "Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to equity."
In March, the Maryland officials sent a letter to President Joe Biden citing two executive orders that he had issued about equity. The officials argued that building the new FBI headquarters in Prince George’s County would put those executive orders into practice.
“We write to call your attention to a crucial decision pending before your administration — a decision that has the potential to be a shining example of the integrity of your executive orders and an opportunity to right the wrongs of decades of systemic racism and discrimination by our nation’s marquis law enforcement agency,” the Maryland leaders wrote in the March letter.
The FBI, under former director J. Edgar Hoover — the namesake of the current headquarters building — spent years on surveillance of civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., they wrote in the letter.
"Given this history, the decision of where to site the future headquarters of the FBI has the potential to send a message to the nation that the racism that permeated Hoover’s FBI, that sought to 'discredit, disrupt and destroy' civil rights leaders, is remembered in history, but that a new chapter has begun," the Maryland leaders said.
On Wednesday, the Maryland officials said they are committed to ensuring the FBI "has the best possible headquarters in the quickest timeframe so that we can facilitate a smooth transition to Prince George’s County."
Meanwhile, some in Congress thought that any FBI HQ move is a waste of time and money, and instead the US should just paradrop the old Stasi headquarter from east Berlin somewhere in the Beltway.
Matt Gaetz UNLOADS on House Floor at FBI and Democrats for requesting funding for MASSIVE new DC Headquarters— Watch to the end 🔥 pic.twitter.com/yqlqKIpbCb— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) November 9, 2023