States, D.C. vie to host homeland department

Congressional representatives in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. are lobbying hard to become the site of the Homeland Security Department's headquarters, each touting the advantages of their locales.

Homeland Security Office director Tom Ridge has received letters from Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Sen. George Allen (R.-Va.) and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton pressing the advantages of putting the homeland security headquarters in their jurisdictions.

Norton held a press conference last month with D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams at which she cited two executive orders and a federal law requiring the department to be located in the District. Norton contends that placing the headquarters outside the city would deal 'crippling economic domino effects' to the Washington economy.

In a Dec. 26 statement, Norton said, 'Much of the District's economy hangs on a decision the Bush administration is about to make. The Mayor and I hope that the administration will figure the loss of more than $171 million in city revenues into the equation before selecting a location for DHS.' She said the city might lose as many as 15,000 to 18,000 jobs if the administration chooses a Maryland or Virginia location for the new department.

Norton cited executive orders 12072 of 1978 and 13006 of 1998 which require federal agencies to give 'first consideration to locating in central business districts, including the nation's capital,' according to a statement from her office. She also cited 4 USC Sec. 72 of 1947, which requires that 'all offices attached to the seat of government be exercised in the District of Columbia and not elsewhere, except as otherwise provided by statute,' and said the Homeland Security Act did not override that provision.

Allen sent letters to President Bush and to Ridge saying that his state stands ready to provide a home for the new department. Its advantages include a large number of IT, defense and technology companies as well as the headquarters of the Pentagon, CIA and other agencies, Allen wrote.

An aide to Allen said that the senator has been conducting meetings with various members of the administration in an effort to attract the headquarters to Virginia.

Mikulski wrote to Ridge touting the advantages of her state, including 'established, secure federal facilities; continuity of operations in the event of an attack; and a large pool of federal workers.'

Mikulski cited Maryland's appeal as the home of the National Security Agency, other law enforcement agencies and Fort Detrick as well as its workforce.

The General Services Administration is reviewing proposals to provide space for the department's headquarters. Ridge could announce the new department's location as early as Jan. 24, congressional sources said.

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