Hoyer: GOP Leaders Know the FBI Must Have a New Headquarters
By Bruce DePuyt
Despite the General Service Administration’s recent decision to pull the plug on the search for a new FBI headquarters site, Republican leaders in Congress know that the Bureau must have a new home, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said this week.
And he thinks the government should treat the sale of the FBI’s current headquarters site, on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and the construction of the new building as separate transactions.
“I think we would get more money for the FBI if we put it on the open market,” Hoyer said. “This is one of the prime pieces of real estate in the world. And I think the developer would have less of a challenge trying to do both together.”
Hoyer’s home county, Prince George’s, is home to two of the three sites GSA was considering when it ended the search process.
“The FBI is now in a building that everybody, everybody, there’s no dispute, [knows] is falling down. … And when I say falling down literally, those of you who’ve walked by the building know they have nets… so that falling concrete off the building will not hit people.”
Senior Republican lawmakers “have indicated they understand this project needs to be done,” Hoyer said. “We need to get the money.”
The House minority whip made his comments during a wide-ranging interview with local reporters in Bowie on Monday.
As Hoyer spoke, President Trump was wrapping up his prepared remarks about the violence in Charlottesville, Va., which the lawmaker called “appalling.” The white supremacists who organized the protest represent an ideology that is “un-American, dangerous and morally reprehensible,” Hoyer said, and he faulted the president for not being more direct in his original remarks. Hoyer singled out Trump advisers Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka — “three people who, in my opinion, reflect encouragement for separatist, discriminatory activities by the federal government and by our nation… and we need to reject that out of hand and we need to be explicit.”
Congressional lawmakers are in recess until after Labor Day and Hoyer said there’s a lot to do in not a lot of time. Among the items on Congress’s to-do list: raising the debt limit, funding the government beyond the fiscal year on Sept. 30, and reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Flood Insurance Program and the program that provides health insurance to children from low-income families. The House and Senate are only scheduled to be in session 12 days between their return to D.C. and the end of the fiscal year.
“This is the least productive seven months I’ve ever spent in the Congress,” the 18-term lawmaker told reporters.
Other highlights from the congressman’s roundtable chat with reporters:
— Although some on the far right believe letting the U.S. default on its debt would force reductions in federal spending, Hoyer said default would be “catastrophic,” adding “the debt limit has been demagogued… and I’ve told (House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy) I will get at least 100 votes from the Democratic side of the aisle, which is unusual… if it’s a clean debt limit extension.”
— Maryland’s congressional delegation has worked closely with Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to retain and attract jobs to the Patuxent Naval Air Station, the Goddard Space Flight Center and other federal installations in the Free State.
— If the federal government runs out of money on Sept. 30, it will be because of the GOP rank-and-file, not the leadership. “Neither [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) nor [House Speaker] Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) want to shut down the government.”
— Although he’s not prepared to endorse fellow Maryland Rep. John Delaney’s White House bid, Hoyer said he thinks Delaney will bring “a very important perspective” and a “thoughtful” approach to the campaign. Hoyer believes Democrats will retain Delaney’s 6th District seat and that 2018 “will be a Democratic year,” adding “I think we can take back the House.”