The FBI says it wants to move its headquarters from its current location in downtown Washington D.C., and lawmakers around the region are vying for this big development project. The General Services Administration says it's received 35 proposals from developers and communities interested in hosting a new headquarters. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, spoke with Matt McCleskey about Congress' role in any relocation.
On the latest developers relocating the FBI headquarters from the J. Edgar Hoover building: "It would be the biggest, the richest, the most important federal public works project in the District since the Homeland Security Department project. Yesterday, there was a hearing in the House where the politics of this burst into the open. You had three important members of our local Congressional delegation, two from Maryland one from Virginia: Rep. Steny Hower (D-Md.), Sen. Ban Cardin (D-Md.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), all making their pitch for why their jurisdiction should get the call... The money is really what it's all about. This would be an economic draw. This is part of the District's argument for this: the FBI has been located right in the heart of the Federal Triangle area since it was born, and it would be bad symbolism to even move it across the Anacostia, which is what Mayor Gray is proposing."
On how much comes down to Congress: "It all comes down, as I said, to money, and Congress has to spend the money. So Congress will ultimately have to approve of this. There is some talk that Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, could use all of her muscle as chairwoman of that committee to force the issue. Probably not, because that would smack of an earmark, and earmarks are bad in the current Congress. Instead, the idea of the Maryland delegation is to write language that would sort of push the project toward Maryland. They say they would like to get a resolution enacted by Congress that would require the FBI to be located within 2 miles of a Metro stations and 2 miles from the Beltway. And until the Silver Line is built out to Dulles, which is where Virginia has some idea of placing this thing, that would push it toward Maryland, if not the District."
On how long this would take: "It's going to take a while to wade through and come up with the money to pay for this. Although, this is supposed to be a public-private partnership, so the developers will have to front some of the money. Inevitably, there will be money involved. As you know from the Bethesda Naval Hospital, a lot of the infrastructure around this project will have to be paid for, so coming up with the money is the answer."
On whether the Senate will follow the House in extending a pay freeze: "I think the odds are in favor of that, yes. The Senate will take up this bill on Monday. They have been debating it all week. We hear that there may be an amendment to allow a pay freeze for federal workers. I think in this post-sequestration climate, when people are even talking about not allowing the President to use his limousine to go down to Andrews Airforce Base to play a round of golf, it looks dim for federal workers to get a pay raise."