July 11, 2017 / 6:04 PM / 13 days ago

U.S. government scraps plans to replace crumbling FBI headquarters

3 Min Read

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) building in Washington, U.S. May 9, 2017.Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration has scrapped a $1.4 billion plan to replace the crumbling headquarters of the FBI and ended a years-long effort to find the crime-fighting agency a new home, officials said on Tuesday.

The decision leaves the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a 1970s-era building that has nets rigged to catch falling stone and is too small to house its burgeoning work force.

"The cancellation of the project does not lessen the need for a new FBI headquarters," the General Services Administration, the government's property management arm, said in a statement.

The agencies said Congress had provided only $523 million of the $1.4 billion needed to replace the J. Edgar Hoover Building with a suburban campus of up to 2.1 million square feet (195,000 square meters).

The GSA had tried to limit costs by auctioning the moated Brutalist-style building a few blocks from the White House, with federal funds filling in any difference between the proceeds and the cost of a new headquarters.

The FBI project had become a political battle as local leaders fought to house the site and its thousands of workers. Two of the three proposed campuses were in Prince George's County, Maryland, and the third was in Virginia.

Democratic members of Congress blamed President Donald Trump's administration for the cancellation. Maryland's Democratic lawmakers said in a statement that Congress was committed to funding the project fully.

Representative Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, said in a statement that the decision showed Trump's conflicts of interest with the FBI, the GSA and Vornado Realty Trust (VNO.N), one of the bidding companies.

The GSA is the landlord to Trump's Washington hotel, and the president has tangled with the FBI over its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Vornado Chief Executive Steven Roth has been tapped to help lead a White House council on infrastructure.

The company and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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