A measure approved Wednesday by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Commmittee, chaired by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), authorized $834 million for the project, part of $1.7 billion in appropriations requested by the Obama administration.
If approved by the full Congress, those dollars would add to $390 million that was previously appropriated.
The committee also reshaped the project with an eye on reducing costs and ensuring the project be accessible to public transit.
The committee capped appropriations for the project at $2.11 billion, not counting the costs of outfitting the new building or decommissioning the current one. The $2.11 billion also doesn’t include the value of the Hoover Building, which the agency overseeing the project, the General Services Administration, has proposed trading to the company selected to build the project in an effort to offset the cost.
The GSA has not disclosed a list of approved bidders for the project, but officials and executives say four teams are finalists, including two associates of President-elect Donald Tump.
The committee added two other stipulations to the funding measure. One requires that the administration consider the traffic impact of bringing the FBI’s 11,000 headquarters employees from around the region to one location.
Transportation to the new headquarters became a top concern for locals after the GSA dramatically increased parking requirements and failed to prioritize Metro access, over the objections of federal planning officials at the National Capital Planning Commission. The measure specifically requires the GSA to consider NCPC’s “recommendations on parking and proximity to Metro rail.”
Another stipulation could dent the chances of the project moving to Springfield, where the site being considered is currently occupied by a secure CIA facility. Moving that would cost an estimated $210 million, and other site preparation to bring the FBI there would total $18 million, according to GSA estimates.
Under the resolution, the GSA would have to “consider the total costs to the government for relocations, site preparation and site acquisition” in making its selection.
Both changes were celebrated by Maryland officials, who chafed in particular at the possibility of Virginia gaining what they considered an unfair cost advantage for the Springfield site.
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement that the cost provision “requires GSA to consider the significant cost of relocation and site preparation of the Springfield site, which ought to be a serious concern for taxpayers.”
“I advocated strongly for these provisions, and their inclusion ensures that the resolution is favorable for Maryland,” he said.
No representative at the hearing raised Trump’s potential conflict-of-interest in the project, given his closness with two of the bidders. But there remain concerns about whether the GSA ought to trade away the Hoover Building rather than sell it separately.
“I think pairing the two is stupid,” said Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) “It’s certainly going to limit the number of people who are interested in constructing and bidding on the FBI headquarters. We will not get the full value for the downtown property.”
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