- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2020

President Trump on Wednesday said money for a new FBI building near his Washington hotel should stay in the GOP’s coronavirus relief bill and that Senate Republicans raising concerns about it should go “back to school.”

“We have that in the bill, it should stay,” Mr. Trump told reporters outside the White House.

When told that Senate Republicans don’t want it in the coronavirus bill, Mr. Trump said: “Then Republicans should go back to school and learn.”

He said they could renovate the existing building on Pennsylvania Avenue, though he likes the idea of a new one.

“You have to be near the Justice Department — you don’t want to be too far away where you have to drive for an hour and a half,” Mr. Trump said.

Plans to move the FBI’s headquarters from its current location have been in the works for years.

The search had been narrowed down to sites just outside of the nation’s capital: Greenbelt and Landover in suburban Maryland and Springfield in Northern Virginia.

But the Trump administration pulled the plug in 2017, blaming Congress for a lack of funds to execute the relocation.

Both Republicans and Democrats have said they don’t understand why the $1.75 billion for a new building is included in a GOP package that’s supposed to be about COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared surprised earlier this week that the money was included in the plan he helped write. The Kentucky Republican has directed reporters to ask the White House for justification.

Democrats have also said the White House wants the money for the building so that the site, which is near Mr. Trump’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, couldn’t be used to build a competing hotel.

Earlier Wednesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany had said the president wants to see the money for the building in the coronavirus relief package but that it’s not a “deal-breaker” in the ongoing negotiations.

“It’s in the bill. The president’s made clear that this is what he wants to see — it’s not a deal-breaker,” she said on “CBS This Morning.” “This was part of the president’s priority of updating the FBI building, keeping it in D.C.”

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