- The Washington Times - Monday, March 11, 2019

The Trump administration will not ask for additional funding for its $3.3 billion plan to tear down and rebuild the FBI headquarters in downtown Washington, a Justice Department official said Monday.

Assistant Attorney General for Administration Lee Lofthus told reporters the administration will postpone seeking new money for the project while it confers with Congress on the proposal.

Those discussions are ongoing, Mr. Lofthus said, noting the funding request is absent from President Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget proposal.

Last year, the administration sought nearly $2.2 billion for the project, which consists of tearing down the FBI building on Pennsylvania Avenue and replacing it with a modern facility on the same location.

That plans has drawn sharp criticism from congressional Democrats, who have raised questions about Mr. Trump’s decision to abandon the General Services Administration’s recommendation that the bureau build a sprawling campus headquarters in nearby Maryland or Virginia.

“The Trump administration came in, scrapped all the plans that had been in place for years, totally reversed course and Congress, on a bipartisan base, has been very troubled,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, said in a February interview with WTOP.

Some Democrats have accused Mr. Trump of wanting to keep the FBI in the same location because it sits across the street from the Trump International Hotel.

If the FBI vacated the spot, a competitor to the hotel could move in.

Earlier this month, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent letters to the GSA, FBI and Justice Department seeking more information about why Mr. Trump scrapped the suburban campus plan.

Mr. Van Hollen and other Democrats who represent districts just outside of Washington have asked the GSA and FBI to reconsider locations in Maryland and Virginia.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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