Norton Slams Hawley, Blackburn Bill Moving Federal Agencies Out of the National Capital Region

Oct 23, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today slammed a bill introduced by Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) that would move most federal agencies outside of the National Capital Region.

“We can have a discussion on ways to make government work better for the American people, but harmful bills introduced for cheap talking points should not be part of that discussion,” Norton said.  “According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), 85 percent of federal employees work outside of the Washington, D.C. metro area.  Hundreds of federal employees and their families have already been impacted by attempts to relocate agencies, which directly hurts their operations.  Congress cannot do its job without the unvarnished facts and briefings that nonpartisan agencies give the House and Senate almost daily.  I have already gotten language in appropriations bills that would block politically motivated moves outside the National Capital Region, and I will continue to fight these relocations with every tool at my disposal.”

“At one agency targeted for relocation, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), nearly ninety-five percent of staff are already employed outside the National Capital Region, while those who do work at headquarters keep Congress and the President informed of BLM activities.  In fact, in the 1990s, the BLM moved its wildfire staff out West, only to move them back when Congress demanded briefings on new wildfires.

“It is abundantly clear that these unprecedented moves are not about saving taxpayer money or ‘draining the swamp’ – they are solely about generating inaccurate talking points.  And I will promise you this: this harmful bill will go nowhere in the House.”

Earlier this year, the Trump administration began relocating the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, outside of the National Capital Region.  Reports quickly emerged that top scientists are deserting the USDA in high numbers, devastating the agency’s scientific work.  Norton had warned that unless measures are taken to stop the sabotage of these agencies, she fears the same outcome could await others. 

Norton has introduced a bill to prohibit the relocation of any federal department or agency headquarters outside of the National Capital Region without congressional approval.