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Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine: Biden 'thumb on the scale' not wanted in choice of new FBI HQ site

Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Virginia Democratic lawmakers are making the case for the FBI headquarters to move to Springfield, Va., while Maryland lawmakers want it in their state's Prince George's County.

Published: March 9, 2023 4:40pm

Updated: March 9, 2023 11:18pm

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine says President Joe Biden shouldn't put his "thumb on the scale" by publicly announcing his personal preference for the location of the new FBI headquarters.

"We don't think asking somebody to put their thumb on the scale makes any sense here," Kaine said when asked about the potential for Biden weighing in on the decision during a news conference after a meeting with the General Services Administration on Thursday. "Usually, where I come from, a thumb on the scale is a bad thing. We want to avoid thumbs on the scale rather than encourage and promote thumbs on scales."

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it "would be a huge mistake to have political thumbs on the scale." 

The FBI headquarters is currently located in Washington, D.C. Biden resurrected the plan to move the FBI headquarters out of Washington, D.C. with his fiscal year 2023 budget. The cost of renovating the existing building under the Trump administration was estimated to be more than $3 billion. 

Warner said the Trump administration "slowed down" the process of moving the FBI headquarters out of downtown Washington. 

"Maryland and Virginia were outraged when the previous administration, the White House, put the thumb on the scale to try to slow down the process," he said. "There was speculation about why they wouldn't want the FBI to move and what the FBI might propose in terms of a location for other facilities."

Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Virginia Democratic lawmakers have been making the case for the FBI headquarters to move to Fairfax County, while Maryland Democratic Gov. Wes Moore and Maryland lawmakers want the GSA to choose Prince George's County

Youngkin, who is scheduled to participate in a CNN live town hall on education Thursday evening, did not appear at the press conference following the GSA meeting he attended with local and state officials.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and Supervisor Rodney Lusk also did not attend Thursday's news conference after the meeting. McKay and Lusk were among the eight supervisors who voted Tuesday to advance a plan to raise supervisors' salaries by as much as 45%. The final vote on the proposal is set to take place on March 21.

Moore challenged Youngkin to a basketball match on Thursday to decide the new headquarters.

"Let's go one on one, winner gets the new FBI headquarters," said Moore on Twitter.

"Game on," Youngkin replied.

Both Maryland and Virginia have made their final pitches to the GSA. It is unclear when the GSA will make its decision. 

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