How the Federal Spending Plan Hit a Snag on Plans to Relocate the FBI Building

The negotiated terms, brokered by Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, mandated that the G.S.A. administrator conduct detailed consultations with representatives from the two states and consider the selection criteria within 90 days of the passage of the measure. The legislation also requires the administrator to pick a location.

Virginia delegates also acceded to receiving a smaller amount of money than requested to help relocate the current tenants in the Virginia site, should it be chosen, said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia.

“For a Maryland member of Congress to use his power at the last minute to steer a contract to his home state and district is really a very serious matter,” Mr. Connolly added. “From the Virginian point of view, we didn’t do anything, we didn’t try to change anything. We’re willing to abide by the rules as established by G.S.A. and F.B.I.”

Maryland delegates argued that they were promoting their state’s interests, as lawmakers normally do when they craft a federal spending plan for the year. They also emphasized how conversations over the criteria have been going on for months, with lawmakers holding a news conference in November pushing for a site in Prince George’s County.

“Taking into account the needs of the bureau, the cost of the sites, and the federal government’s responsibility to consider the equity impacts of agency location decisions, it’s clear that Prince George’s County is the best option for the new headquarters,” a joint statement from Mr. Van Hollen, Mr. Hoyer and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, read. “We will continue pushing for a process that fairly considers and recognizes these immense benefits.”

F.B.I. agents have operated in the current building since 1974, previously having been housed in the Department of Justice office. Only half of the agency’s 11,000 agents work in its cramped office in downtown D.C.; the rest are scattered among more than a dozen leased locations in and around Washington that cost $150 million annually as of 2015.

Around that time, Mr. Trump’s personal involvement in discussions about the future of the F.B.I. headquarters raised eyebrows among Democrats in Congress, who worried that the former president had intervened to prevent the land from being redeveloped with a project that would compete with his company’s hotel that was across the street. His involvement and the relocation progress were also reviewed by the Department of Justice’s inspector general in 2019.

The bureau itself appeared to be maintaining a neutral stance on the location of its new headquarters, releasing a statement that said: “We are confident in G.S.A.’s expertise to select a location that will best serve the needs of the F.B.I. long into the future.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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