July 11, 2017

Van Hollen on FBI: This is a Reckless Decision Made by the Trump Administration

Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke at a press conference about the announcement that the Trump Administration,through the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is canceling the current request for proposals to construct a new fully consolidated FBI headquarters. Prince George's County, Md., was home to two of the three finalist locations for the fully consolidated FBI headquarters. Below is a transcript of his remarks:

"Thank you, Senator Cardin. Thank you for your incredible leadership as head of Team Maryland in theUnited States Congress.It's great to be herewith our colleagues. Congressman Anthony Brown, who got to work straight away to support the project for Prince George'sCounty, for Maryland, and, more importantly, for the country. And Rushern Baker, Prince George's County Executive, who's also made this a priority, who's invested a lot of effort and money in making sure that this project came to fruition. I also want to thank Steny Hoyer and Team Maryland - but Team Maryland, as Senator Cardin said, really working for Team USA to make sure that we have a modern, consolidated FBI Building - for two reasons.

"One, to make sure we strengthen our national security. That building is failing, it's falling apart. The FBI is currently spread among 12 different offices throughout the Washington region. So if we want to avoid the stovepipe mentality and make sure that everybody is coordinating and communicating in a modern way, we need a new, consolidated FBI for our national security.

"As Senator Cardin said, it is also a big waste of taxpayer money to delay this decision. Right now, we're going to have to be spending taxpayer money to put band-aids on the current building to keep it operational and continue paying leases on all the other buildings.

"I've never seen a decision handled with more mismanagement and more negligence than this one today. This is a reckless decision made by the Trump Administration.

"As Senator Cardin said, we have made the funds available, over $900 million to date. I will remind everybody that when the Trump Administration first advanced their budget... they zeroed out, they eliminated funding for the FBI building. It was the United States Congress that provided the funds in this current fiscal year. The FBI was allocated $323 million just a couple months ago and the GSA $200 million. That's on top of the money Senator Cardin mentioned in FY 2016.

"And I remember the evening when Senator Cardin and I worked together in the United States Senate to put the current language in the bill.'It is the intent of Congress to provide funding in Fiscal Year 2018 necessary for the project to proceed expeditiously.'In other words, a big down payment already there, already banked for the FBI, and a commitment by the United States Congress that was adopted in the Senate and the House that the remainder of that money would come in Fiscal Year 2018. So I can tell you, we're going work very hard to get to the bottom of this decision. This decision does not make sense for the American people. I don't know what was behind it.

"There was a briefing for some of our staff members just about an hour or so ago. The verdict from there was there was no good justification or explanation. So I look forward to working with Senator Cardin and our colleagues in the House in the upcoming appropriations process - both to make sure that we do provide the funding to go forward, but also to demand the documents from the GSA as to what was behind this decision. This decision just does not make sense. It doesn't make sense for the American people. It doesn't make sense for the national security of the United States. It doesn't make sense from a fiscal perspective."