Dozens of federal, state, county and municipal officials came together Friday to celebrate the future home of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s headquarters in Prince George’s County.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) led a nearly 90-minute celebratory press conference during which a dozen elected officials praised the General Services Administration’s decision Wednesday to select the city of Greenbelt as the new home for the bureau’s 7,500 employees.
“There’s currently an FBI building that just last weekend, had a piece of concrete almost hit a person who’s working inside the building. They need and deserve better and in Maryland, we will deliver that,” Moore said, referring to the 40-year-old J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington, D.C.
The governor, behind a lectern adorned with a sign that read “Maryland: Home of the FBI,” stood alongside several members of the state’s federal delegation, including Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-5th).
The 22-term former House majority leader, who first worked on the FBI relocation project more than a decade ago, was called a “quarterback,” “general manager” and “leader” of the effort to lure the agency to Prince George’s County.
Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller (D) said the word “tenacity” in Maryland is spelled “S.T.E.N.Y.”
The Maryland officials largely brushed aside criticism of the General Services Administration’s decision from officials in Virginia and FBI Director Christopher Wray, who wrote in a message to employees Thursday that he was concerned with the approval process.
He later wrote, “We will continue to be clear about our process concerns, even as we work with GSA toward the design and construction of a facility.”
On Friday at the Greenbelt Municipal Building, Hoyer responded simply: “This is a done deal.”
Hoyer and others stood at the microphone to highlight what they called “the merits” in winning the selection:
- Locating the headquarters in Greenbelt versus Springfield, Va., saves taxpayers at least $1 billion in land acquisition and prep.
- The Greenbelt site is located near public transportation that includes Metrorail and MARC train stations.
- The Greenbelt site can be built upon now, while buildings at the Springfield location are in current use and would have to be torn down.
“We won it fair and square,” said Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-4th).
Even though Maryland officials said the selection process is over, it could face headwinds from Virginia lawmakers and Republicans in Congress.
The House voted 273-145 on Wednesday against an amendment proposed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to prohibit the FBI from using funds to acquire the new property in Greenbelt.
“Here’s the thing: Do these Republicans in Virginia or wherever want to be tied at the hip to [Georgia Congresswoman] Marjorie Taylor Greene or Matt Gaetz?” Ivey asked. “I don’t think it’s going to turn the tide in the Congress… It’s a win-win across the board for Democrats and Republicans and I think it’s going to continue to carry the day.”
Ivey, a member of the House Judiciary Committee who has listened on as Republicans on the panel criticized Wray and the FBI, said he didn’t appreciate Wray’s assessment of the selection process overseen by GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. Without naming her, Wray questioned the GSA’s former commissioner of public buildings, Nina Albert.
Albert, who has since moved on to an appointment as D.C.’s deputy mayor for economic development and planning, previously worked for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which owns the Greenbelt site.
“The statements he made about that public servant were just over the line, and there was no factual basis for it. None at all,” Ivey said. “[Wray] knew that she wouldn’t have a platform to respond to that kind of thing. I just think it’s disappointing, to say the least, that he would do that.”
‘Thank you, Steny’
Hoyer, along with Democratic Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and former Rep. and current Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown, fought efforts six years ago by former President Donald Trump to keep the FBI headquarters in D.C.
Hoyer, Cardin and Van Hollen helped secure language in last year’s omnibus funding package to “conduct separate and detailed consultations with individuals representing the sites from the State of Maryland and Commonwealth of Virginia” to ensure GSA’s criteria for selecting a site was “consistent with Congressional intent.”
But Hoyer received all the praise Friday.
The congressman “spoke in one language and it’s called FBI,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D). “This has really been an effort of love and tenacity on his behalf…”
Brown, who was sworn in as attorney general in January, praised Alsobrooks and Moore as being the “real closers” during a presentation with GSA officials in March as part of “Team Maryland.”
Brown, the 12th and final person to speak Friday, concluded his remarks by presenting a “Home of the FBI” poster to Hoyer.
“Steny, throughout your career I have no doubt that you have a long list of successes and achievements that you will be able to point to, but I am equally confident that if not the first among the top will be your work, your achievement, your effective leadership in delivering success this very good day as we call Prince George’s County, the home of the FBI,” Brown said. “Thank you, Steny. This one’s for you.”
After the press conference, Hoyer thanked all “friends” for their comments.
He praised former Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) and former Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who weren’t in attendance. He also thanked former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who sat near the back of the room during the press event.
Hoyer, who has represented his district since 1981, said the FBI project ranks as one of his top achievements.
“When you work at something this long, 13 years I’ve been at this, you feel a sense of accomplishment,” he said. “This was a team effort from [the] county level to state level to the federal level. I have not been — in the 42-years-plus that I’ve been in Congress — in a team effort as organized, as focused and as complementary to one another as this one was.”