What to know about Maryland’s pitch to make Prince George’s the new FBI homebase
More than a dozen Maryland state officials, including Gov. Wes Moore and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, held a press conference on Wednesday to make their bid for the new FBI headquarters to be relocated from downtown D.C. to Prince George’s County.
Among the local leaders also present were Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and three members of Congress representing Maryland: Rep. Jamie Raskin, Rep. David Trone, and Rep. Glenn Ivey.
The decade-long search for a new site for the FBI headquarters has pitted Maryland and Virginia against one another; top Virginia officials made their pitch last month to win the headquarters. According to a 2023 budget request from the Biden administration, the new headquarters is expected to accommodate at least 7,500 workers.
The delegation called for one of two sites in Prince George’s County to be chosen as the new location, citing the potential for economic growth for the majority African American community.
“This is about much more than where to just put a building,” said Moore. “All we’re asking [is] a fair and transparent process and one where a thumb is not being put on the scale to unfairly disadvantage a community that has already been historically disadvantaged.”
The group called on the GSA to reconsider its current priorities for selecting a location, citing the Biden administration’s recent push for diversity. The GSA criteria for choosing a new site, in order of importance, include compatibility with the FBI’s mission requirements, transportation access, flexibility of site development, sustainability and equity, and cost.
Maryland’s proposal is competing against a separate bid from Virginia for bringing the FBI to Springfield. Officials in Maryland also argued that Virginia has an unfair advantage because it is already home to the Pentagon and Quantico. They note that decades of potential economic growth has been lost in Prince George’s County.
“These kinds of decisions grow those communities. And you can look at Prince George’s County – look at the fact that we’re [ranked] 102 in terms of wealth and income compared to Fairfax County, that is number two,” said Alsobrooks. “This is an actual disparity that can be borne out in numbers, and so the loss has already been experienced by Prince George’s.”
In Maryland, the proposed sites include Greenbelt or Landover, both in Prince George’s County. While the delegation made its strongest case around the issue of equity and diversity, they also asked the GSA to consider other assets the sites offer. They note the proximity to transportation – including a Metro station located roughly 500 feet from the proposed site in Greenbelt.
“As a transportation engineer, I understand commuter’s habits and the need to have reliable, accessible, and user friendly transit. Thus, it’s important to select a site that provides more transportation choices, saves time, and minimizes our dependence on single occupancy vehicle,” said Lt. Gov. Miller.
According to the delegation, the proposed sites in Prince George’s County are ready for development if selected for the new site, which would significantly reduce the cost compared to a competing site in Fairfax County. Alsobrooks argues that the readiness of the Prince George’s site would save upwards of a billion dollars.
“I think it’s very difficult to say that it is in the best interest of the United States to locate this very important asset in a place that would cost taxpayers more money,” said Alsobrooks.
Officials in Virginia responded to Maryland’s bid in a press release, citing their comparative competitiveness. They noted that the Commonwealth has invested more than $15 billion in transportation improvements in Springfield and the surrounding region. They also note other national security assets in Northern Virginia, including the FBI’s training division in Quantico, and Langley, home to the CIA. They also countered Maryland’s claims around equity, citing Springfield’s “majority-minority population,” along with the fact that more than 50 percent of homes speak a language other than English and 40 percent of the population was born outside of the U.S.
The General Services Administration is set to make the final decision at the end of March.