The Washington Post

Rep. John Mica’s gambit for FTC’s headquarters all about arts and letters

Rep. John Mica is trying to have the FTC building, right, annexed to the National Gallery of Art. (Bill O'Leary/WASHINGTON POST)

Mica has long had his eye on the FTC headquarters’ primo real estate on Pennsylvania Avenue — space he thinks is perfect for a new wing of the National Gallery. Today, he’s planning to pass a resolution through his committee directing the General Services Administration to produce a plan for the agency-for-museum switcheroo.

Meanwhile, the FTC is none to pleased with Mica’s latest maneuver — or with the underlying proposal, which calls for the commission to move to rented office space at the Constitution Center in Southwest Washington — and its commissioners fired off a letter to the committee to that effect. “To require the agency to move ... would impose well over $100 million in wholly unnecessary costs,” the chairman and three commissioners wrote.

They say a move could cost as much as $80 million — and additional millions to pay for leased office space.

It’s unclear what impact the GSA’s report might have in this skirmish between an entrenched agency and the art-loving chairman, but the FTC isn’t taking chances, and clearly took care to cloak their argument in economic terms that are currently very much in vogue on Capitol Hill. “This unprecedented giveaway would be completely contrary to the interests of American taxpayers, especially in this time of fiscal austerity,” the commissioners wrote.

But Mica’s got his own ideas about what’s fiscally prudent — and like art and beauty, that just might be in the eye of the beholder ...

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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