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Senate Republicans Include $1.75B For New FBI HQ In Coronavirus Relief Bill

Hoover Building FBI HQ
The FBI's current HQ, the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue

Tucked into the pages of Senate Republican's trillion-dollar coronavirus relief package proposal on Monday was a provision that would grant the FBI $1.75B to tear down the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue and build a new headquarters in its place.

The funding provision was a demand from the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican representing Kentucky, said Monday.

When asked why the funding was placed in a package to help the country fight the coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post reports that the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, answered, "Good question." 

The Hoover building has been in a state of disrepair for years, and hundreds of millions were spent on a search to replace it as the FBI's headquarters with a facility in suburban Maryland or Virginia. But shortly after President Donald Trump took office, the federal government backtracked on that work and pushed to keep the FBI on Pennsylvania Avenue, three blocks from Trump's hotel at the Old Post Office building.

The leaders of the General Services Administration, which controls the federal government's real estate and leases the Old Post Office to The Trump Organization, declined to say in a 2019 congressional hearing whether Trump directed them to cancel the FBI's move, which would have allowed for the consolidation of more than 10,000 employees at a secure location in Greenbelt or Landover, Maryland, or Springfield, Virginia.

Local leaders sought the move so that the Hoover building's prominent location at Pennsylvania Avenue and Ninth Street NW could be redeveloped into a revenue-generating mixed-use project, rather than a federal building that pays no local taxes. Trump, in explaining why he canceled the planned move, said it would put the FBI "too far away," the Post reported.

The funding was included in Senate Republicans' initial coronavirus relief proposal, which reduced enhanced unemployment benefits from $600 a week to $200, didn't include the bailout the restaurant industry has been pleading for and included hundreds of billions in military spending.

Contact Ethan Rothstein at ethan.rothstein@bisnow.com.