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Virginia, Maryland Battle Over FBI's New Headquarters Site

A decade-long Virginia vs. Maryland feud over which state’s D.C.-area suburb should house the new FBI headquarters has become even more competitive. As Congress worked last year on a bill to fund the government, proposed language was added to the draft that would have improved Maryland’s chances of securing the FBI. Marylanders led by Rep. Steny Hoyer had spent all autumn arguing that the process to choose between Maryland and Virginia had been unfair, according to Slate. Hoyer, in one of his final acts as House majority leader, had great sway over the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, and the Virginians suspected, correctly, that they were being kept in the dark about the fact that Maryland was adding language that would help it with the FBI issue. “When we learned of it,” Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly said, “we raised holy hell.” The Virginians cite the “raw application of power” by Hoyer and others as the source of the bad feelings. Marylanders argue that the bad vibes come from the FBI, which they claim has shown favoritism toward Virginia. All Maryland’s delegation is trying to do, they argue, is even the playing field.

The process has activated deep-seated frustrations from Marylanders about why northern Virginia, which has boomed with corporate relocations and a government-contract explosion gets to have it all, while Prince George’s County, a majority-Black suburban county in Maryland, seemingly goes overlooked. The Virginians vent that Maryland is desperate and doing whatever it can to work the refs. What both delegations agree on is that this is a once-in-a-generation contract that could serve as a 50-year anchor for either community, potentially bringing tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to the winner. In 2011 the first specs of what the new headquarters site would entail emerged: The campus would need roughly 55 acres, would offer 2.1 million square feet of office space, and would be no more than 2.5 miles from the beltway. Site proposals were solicited throughout the region, and after a few years, the list was whittled down to three: one in Fairfax County, Va., and two in Prince George’s County, Md. The prospect of a consolidated FBI campus in the suburbs, separated from the congestion of downtown, would work out well for a variety of stakeholders. The FBI would get a brand-new, modern home. Washington, D.C., could replace a blighted eyesore with revenue-generating development. Politicians in Maryland or Virginia would have a chance to secure bragging rights.


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