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Congress Moves To Block Funding For New FBI HQ Plan At Maryland Delegation's Request

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

After two contentious hearings over the General Services Administration's new plan to keep the FBI on Pennsylvania Avenue, Congress has now moved to block funding for the proposal. 

The federal omnibus spending bill released Wednesday night withholds appropriations for the $3.3B FBI project at the request of the Maryland delegation, the Washington Business Journal reports

The legislation said the funding was not included because of unanswered questions over the new plan, including changes to security requirements and headquarters capacity. 

The previous FBI headquarters search, canceled in July, had been narrowed down to three sites in Greenbelt and Landover, Maryland, and Springfield, Virginia. The GSA then released a new plan last month to demolish the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the FBI's longtime headquarters, and rebuild anew on the Pennsylvania Avenue site. 

Maryland senators grilled GSA and FBI officials at a hearing earlier this month over the change of course. In addition to issues over security and cost, senators questioned whether President Donald Trump, whose company owns a hotel one block away, intervened in the decision. The officials declined to answer. 

While Maryland has significantly more congressional power than D.C., whose delegation consists of one nonvoting delegate and a shadow senator, District officials have also expressed concern over the new plan. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said at a Bisnow event in January he would like to see the prime downtown site redeveloped to commercial and residential uses. 

The GSA's Inspector General launched an investigation earlier this month over the FBI headquarters decision, saying it is focused on costs and security requirements. 

The House passed the $1.3 trillion spending package Thursday, but it still has to be passed by the Senate ahead of a shutdown deadline Friday night. If it is passed, Congress will not have to wait until at least Fiscal Year 2019 to fund the FBI headquarters project.