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Biden administration picks Maryland for new FBI headquarters, AP sources say

J. Edgar Hoover Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, D.C.
File photo of J. Edgar Hoover Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has chosen a location for a new FBI headquarters in Maryland, people familiar with the selection said Wednesday as the suburban Washington location was selected over nearby Virginia following a sharp competition between the two states.

The site is planned for Greenbelt, about 13 miles (20 kilometers) northeast of Washington, two people familiar with the process told The Associated Press. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans ahead of an announcement.

Consideration for a new headquarters has been going on for more than a decade, and in recent months the FBI has expressed concern about the site selection process. News of the choice brought frustrated criticism from Virginia leaders.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia told reporters he had not been officially notified of the selection, but if true, “it would be evidence of gross political interference in an established GSA process that both states went through and it would be frankly more reminiscent of the tactics from the last administration.” GSA is the General Services Administration, and its responsibilities include handling government real estate.

In a joint statement with Sen. Tim Kaine, he said he was disappointed that the “clear case” for Virginia, home to the FBI Academy in Quantico, was set aside.

Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, on the other hand, said the location in his state was ideal because of access to mass transit and because the cost to taxpayers would be significantly less there.

“We’re very happy about this location. We’ve got a lot more work to do,” Cardin said. The choice was first reported by The Washington Post.

In a joint statement, Maryland’s elected leaders applauded the decision and said their push to bring the FBI headquarters there was “never about politics” and the new facility would meet a “dire, longstanding need for a new consolidated headquarters.”

Democratic Maryland Gov. Wes Moore argued in recent monthsthat building it there would be fast, save taxpayers $1 billion and meet equity goals raised by President Joe Biden, with a location in the majority-Black Prince George's County.

He raised transparency concerns about the process, including extra weight abruptly given in 2022 to the proximity of the academy.

Virginia leaders, including Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, argued that along with the academy the state has also welcomed Amazon and other big companies in recent years.

In July, the GSA announced changes in criteria for choosing the new location, boosting two potential places in Maryland. The new criteria raised the weight given to cost and social equity concerns to 20% each and proximity to the FBI Academy to 25%, down from 35%.

Plans to replace the FBI’s roughly five-decade-old J. Edgar Hoover Building, where nets surround the facility to protect pedestrians from falling debris, have been under discussion for 15 years. Momentum stalled at one point while Donald Trump was president, with discussion centering on rebuilding on the existing site in Washington.

Two other finalists were Springfield, Virginia, and Landover, Maryland. About 7,500 jobs are connected to the facility.

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