“I said, 'Let’s build a new FBI building, either a renovation of the existing or. even better, let’s build a new building.' So, we have that in the bill. It should stay, people have wanted a new FBI building now for 15-20 years,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.
“But Republicans don’t want it in the bill,” a reporter informed Trump.
“Then Republicans should go back to school and learn you need a new building,” the president said. “It’s a bad building, it’s a dangerous building, you have slabs falling off. It’s not a good building from the inside. It’s a very expensive building, they need a new building and we can do it very easily.”
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he opposed including funding for a new FBI headquarters in the next round of relief legislation, though the White House insisted it be included in the original GOP bill text released a day earlier. The new proposal allocated $1.75 billion for the new building.
McConnell made clear he has no intention of fighting for the FBI money, calling it “non-germane” to the coronavirus pandemic and compared it to extras in the $3 trillion House bill that he opposes, such as full restoration of State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction or extending $1,200 direct payments to undocumented immigrants.
"Let me speak for myself, I am opposed to non-germane amendments," McConnell told reporters at the Capitol.
"Whether it's funding for the FBI building, or for example, in the House bill, whether it's a tax cut for high-income earners in blue states, or other non-germane amendments in the House bill like marijuana studies or aid to illegal immigrants. When we get to the end of the process I would hope all non-COVID related measures are out -- no matter what bills they were in at the start."
McConnell Monday already distanced himself from the unrelated FBI funding and said it was a White House priority. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows were at the Capitol all weekend -- without McConnell -- to write the bill.
"They'll have to answer the question on why they insisted on that provision," McConnell told reporters Monday. "You'll have to ask them why they insisted that be included.”
Trump said that the FBI had considered designing a new building in Virginia or Maryland, but he insisted they rebuild on the property of the current headquarters to be near the Justice Department.
The Trump administration's abrupt plans to nix the expected new FBI campus in the suburbs had already drawn the ire of lawmakers, including Meadows, who raised cost concerns about the demolish-and-rebuild plan when he was a GOP member of the House, Federal News Network reported last year.
The Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced in 2019 he's reviewing the circumstances around the cancellation of the plan to relocate the FBI headquarters to Virginia or Maryland.
Democrats have accused Trump of wanting the FBI building to stay in Washington for his own self-interest by preventing a new hotel from being developed on the FBI downtown real estate that could compete with his nearby DC Trump hotel.
“They don’t have money for food stamps, but they have money for an FBI building just so that they can diminish competition for the president’s hotel,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday of the GOP bill proposal.
Fox News' Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.