Even when crafting a sweeping government spending bill, all politics is local.
A provision in the year-end spending package allocated funds for a new FBI headquarters, which lawmakers said will benefit national security, but could also benefit one state angling to be the site of that new complex. As the FBI searches for a new site, with two potential properties in Maryland, members of the Free State's congressional delegation gathered in the Senate Wednesday to cheer the inclusion of nearly $400 million dollars in the year-end spending package as a "downpayment" for the new headquarters.
"By being committed in this year's appropriation to help the FBI, we believe it will be a boost for us," said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee.
Two sites on the FBI's shortlist for a new headquarters are in Prince George's County in Maryland. The appropriation in the spending bill, released shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday, amounts to $390 million, and includes $180 million in the agency's construction budget, $135 million for acquiring land and preparing a site for the headquarters and $75 million for "construction management and oversight activities."
Mikulski, who is set to retire after this Congress, was joined by her fellow Democrats, Rep. Donna Edwards, who is running to replace Mikulski in the Senate; House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer; and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin. Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker was also on hand.
Asked if there was any pushback from fellow lawmakers that this could appear to be an earmark for Maryland, Cardin told reporters after the news conference, "That's not an earmark. We are required to fund agencies."
"This is for our national security. This is for a consolidated facility that would protect the safety of Americans," Cardin added. "We believe it will be located in Maryland because we think we have the best site for a full consolidation."
The Maryland delegation has been pushing for the new headquarters to come to Prince George's County since the sites made the shortlis t , arguing that the county is home to many federal workers, but has the least number of federal offices in the region.
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