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FBI Headquarters Search Must Clear New Hurdle In Federal Spending Bill

Congress is engaged in a last-minute race to fund the government and avoid a potential shutdown, and one of the key sticking points in negotiations has reportedly involved the largest federal real estate decision in the D.C. area. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Dec. 15, 2022

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, attempted to hold up the bill Monday night over a dispute involving the selection process for the next FBI headquarters, a decision the government is expected to make in the coming months, Roll Call reported.

Hoyer aimed to negate part of the selection criteria the General Services Administration released in September that appeared to favor the Virginia site over the two Maryland sites, according to Roll Call. The criteria gave weight to a series of "mission requirements" including the proximity of the headquarters to the FBI Academy Quantico, which is located closest to the proposed site in Springfield, Virginia

After reaching a compromise, Congress circulated a bill draft Tuesday morning that said the GSA should meet with officials from Maryland and Virginia within the next 90 days to discuss their perspectives on the selection criteria, the FBI's mission requirements and the specifics of their sites before making a decision.

The process to select a new FBI headquarters has been going on since the Obama administration, but the Biden administration formally restarted the search earlier this year, and it was previously expected to come to a conclusion this fall. 

Prince George's County, Maryland, officials have touted their two proposed locations in Greenbelt and Landover, which are closer to D.C. and include greater access to public transportation, as a more equitable choice.

They argue the county has been passed over by the GSA far too many times while other suburbs in Northern Virginia and Montgomery County have benefited from the jobs and investment that come from a federal office.

Hoyer has backed that pitch, attending a press conference in Greenbelt on Nov. 4 with local officials to reiterate his desire for the FBI headquarters to land in Maryland.

"I continue to strongly advocate for Maryland as the best location for the FBI headquarters, and I am so proud to stand alongside my colleagues in a powerful show of force that our state makes the best choice for the FBI," Hoyer said at the event. "With the site selection imminent, I proudly believe that Greenbelt or Landover will make terrific choice for the new, consolidated FBI building."

Though the draft that includes a compromise on the FBI's HQ is a step forward, the $1.7T bill that would fund the government through most of next year has not yet been ratified ahead of a Friday evening deadline. Hoyer said Tuesday the House aims to pass the bill by no later than Thursday, The Washington Post reported. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that if the Senate doesn't pass the bill by Thursday, he would pull support and back a stopgap spending bill until the new year, Politico reported.