Plans to construct a new headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the Washington, D.C. suburbs may soon be back on track with congressional oversight, as senators on the Senate Appropriations Committee announced Oct. 19 that the forthcoming financial services and general government appropriations bill would require Congress to be kept apace of progress.

Since 2011, government reports have shown that the J. Edgar Hoover Building, which serves as the current FBI headquarters, did not meet the agency’s security needs and was falling into disrepair.

In 2014, the General Services Administration announced three sites in Maryland and Virginia as finalists for constructing a new headquarters, after which the old building would be demolished and the land sold to private developers. Congress signed off on some funding for this plan.

But in 2017, the Trump administration announced that they were scrapping the plan to relocate and would instead rebuild a new headquarters on the same site as the old building.

Congressional Democrats alleged that then-President Donald Trump opposed the relocation, because a private developer taking control of the existing location could pose a threat to the Trump Hotel across the street. An August 2018 inspector general report found that Trump had been involved in decisions not to move the headquarters.

“For the last four years, President Trump did all he could to block our efforts to construct a new FBI consolidated headquarters that meets the security and capacity needs of the Bureau solely because it stood to hurt his personal financial interests. We fought back tooth and nail, and now, it’s past time to get this project back on track,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

“That’s why I worked to include language in our proposed legislation requiring GSA to provide an update on the construction of a new headquarters and urging the FBI and GSA to work together to move forward. The status quo is unacceptable.”

The bill language would require GSA to report to Congress 180 days after its enactment on the “provisions of the construction and consolidation of the FBI in a new headquarters facility, including all the costs associated with site acquisition, design, management, and inspection, and a description of all buildings and infrastructure needed to complete the project.”

Members of Congress have pushed the Biden administration to restart the relocation project, but GSA has yet to release any new information on the headquarters plans.

Jessie Bur covered the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees for Federal Times.

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