- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen wants to restart the yearslong effort to build a new FBI headquarters after he says former President Donald Trump scrapped those plans for his own personal gain.

“For the last four years, President Trump did all he could to block our efforts to construct a new FBI consolidated headquarters that meets the security and capacity needs of the bureau solely because it stood to hurt his personal financial interests,” said Mr. Van Hollen, a Democrat.

Mr. Trump in 2017 pulled the plug on the planning process that would have relocated the headquarters to Maryland or Virginia.

Mr. Van Hollen and other Democrats contend the former president wanted to maintain the current location because it is across from Trump International Hotel, and the former president did not want a competitor hotel to move into space vacated by the FBI

“We fought back tooth and nail, and now, it’s past time to get this project back on track,” Mr. Van Hollen said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr. Van Hollen said a provision added to one of nine Senate Appropriations bills for fiscal 2022 unveiled this week would require the General Services Administration to finalize a report on a plan for the new headquarters within 180 days of the bill’s enactment.

The bill states the report should include “a summary of the material provisions of the construction and consolidation of the FBI in a new headquarters facility, including all the costs associated with site acquisition, design, management, and inspection, and a description of all buildings and infrastructure needed to complete the project.”

The senator also pointed out that the GSA missed its March 27 deadline to submit a similar report that was required by the fiscal 2021 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. 

He said the report is “overdue and should be submitted without delay.”

The current building has “significantly deteriorated over the past 45 years, with crumbling facades, aging infrastructure, and security limitations that are severely impeding the FBI‘s ability to meet its critical law enforcement and national security missions,” he said.

The back-and-forth over the FBI headquarters has been ongoing for more than a decade and has spanned across three presidential administrations.

In 2011, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee OK’d a resolution to build a 2.1 million-square-foot facility on federal property near the Washington Beltway and D.C. metro system.

Three years later, the GSA released a list of three possible locations, including two sites in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and one in Springfield, Virginia. Since then, lawmakers in both states have spent millions trying to move the bureau to their prospective areas.

Earlier this year, Mr. Van Hollen and three Democrat lawmakers from Virginia joined forces and sent a letter to President Biden asking him to press the issue with the GSA and the Justice Department.

“The Trump administration’s move in 2017 to cancel the project ignored the intent of Congress and scrapped years’ worth of planning, organizing and resources devoted to the project,” they wrote.

The letter was signed by Virginia senators Ben Cardin, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

A Justice Department spokesperson said Wednesday that the agency had no comment. The Washington Times also sent requests for comment on Wednesday to Mr. Trump, the GSA and the FBI.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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