Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he wants the $1.75 billion in funding for a new FBI headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C., removed from the GOP’s coronavirus relief package, the Hill reports. McConnell said he hopes that provision and other “non-germane” items will be removed from the legislation before it’s sent to President Donald Trump’s desk. McConnell spoke after GOP senators met for lunch with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who are involved in negotiations with congressional Democrats on the COVID-19 package.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said Mnuchin and Meadows pressed GOP senators to include the FBI funding in the bill. Democratic leaders suspect Trump wants to refurbish the existing FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue for personal financial gain. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says the president wants to rebuild the FBI headquarters “so that nobody could build a hotel across the street” from the Trump International Hotel. Several Senate Republicans on Tuesday questioned the decision to include funding for a new FBI headquarters in a bill focused on providing coronavirus relief. The bill does include funding for the Justice Department and federal drug-treatment aid, but not for anti-crime grants to state and local governments or for policing reform. Court leaders had hoped for federal aid to help courts, which are struggling to cope with the impact of COVID-19, as The Crime Report recounted last week. The Republican plan may still be amended in the Senate and must be negotiated with the Democratic-controlled House.