Two Republican senators have introduced a bill that would relocate several federal agencies out of the Washington, D.C., Beltway to economically distressed areas in an effort to boost local economies across the country.
The bill, titled the "Helping Infrastructure Restore the Economy (HIRE) Act," is sponsored by Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. Hawley cited plans by the Bureau of Land Management to move portions of the agency to Colorado and Missouri for his support for relocating parts of the federal government.
“Every year Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars fund federal agencies that are mainly located in the D.C. bubble," he said in a news release announcing the bill. "That’s a big part of the problem with Washington: they’re too removed from the rest of America. The HIRE Act will move policymakers directly into the communities they serve, creating thousands of jobs for local communities and saving taxpayers billions of dollars along the way.”
Blackburn said the series of moves would "enable Americans across the country to have greater access to good jobs."
Under the bill, 10 agencies would be required to relocate 90 percent of staffers. The Department of Agriculture would move to Hawley's home state of Missouri and Blackburn's Tennessee would be home to the Department of Education.
Health and Human Services would relocate to Indiana, the Department of the Interior to New Mexico, the Department of Transportation to Michigan, Commerce to Pennsylvania, Veterans Affairs to South Carolina, Energy to Kentucky, Labor to West Virginia and Housing and Urban Development to Ohio.
Hawley touted the plan as a savings to taxpayers.
"Moving agencies also is cheaper long term. Lease costs typically are less outside D.C.," the release states.
Hawley has been an avid supporter of moving the Department of Agriculture headquarters to Kansas City, Mo., a move that has proved difficult after massive resignations at USDA’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture following news of the planned relocation.
Critics argue moving the USDA and BLM would weaken the agencies and reduce their influence with lawmakers. This fall, 27 top BLM officials will move to its Grand Junction, Colo., headquarter while hundreds of staffers will be spread out across the West.
A few dozen will remain in Washington. The Trump administration argues the move makes sense since 99 percent of the land the agency is responsible for is located west of the Mississippi River.