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Steny Hoyer talks FBI, federal budget woes

Hoyer2CAPITOL HILL – Federal decisions from the budget to the FBI headquarters relocation have a big impact on Prince George’s County, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.-5) says he is working to ensure beneficial outcomes.

Hoyer met with The Sentinel in his office last Wednesday to talk about his priorities as they relate to the county. The consolidation of FBI headquarters, and its relocation to one of three short-list sites, including two in Prince George’s County, is near the top of his list.

“I’ve had meetings with the county executive and with the county council, and that seems to be the number one item on their minds. The building would have a really positive effect for the county,” he said.

To date, about $900 million has been appropriated for the project, including $523 million in the fiscal year 2017 budget passed by Congress last month. But, Hoyer said between $800 and $900 million more is needed, and it has not been included in President Donald Trump’s latest budget proposal.

“There is no money for the FBI building. I am disappointed that is not included in the president’s budget. The Congress has said it’s going to fund that, and I believe that the committees are committed to that,” he said.

The budget proposal, Hoyer said, is “unrealistic” and cuts deeply into a wide range of federal coffers.

“It’s been called draconian, and it is. It guts, essentially, education, environmental spending, the Chesapeake Bay,” he said.

The proposal also cuts transportation spending - including allocating no money for the Purple Line light rail project - along with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

“People associate it as helping people with limited means, but on the other hand the majority of the money spent is spent on long-term care. That’s a real challenge,” Hoyer said. “The budget also adversely affects healthcare. It cuts NIH by about 20 percent. That’s just in one year.”

Hoyer said he is also “paying very close attention” to proposed cuts to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, as well as what the budget would mean for federal employees, many of whom live in the county.

“These are extraordinary cuts that the administration has proposed on top of the very substantial reductions in pay and benefits that have occurred in the eight years since the Bush recession,” he said.

But, Hoyer believes Congress – which has ultimate authority to formulate and pass the federal budget – will reject many of Trump’s proposed cuts.

“I think this budget is dead on arrival. Maybe even dead before it arrived. There are even Republicans, conservative Republicans, who think it’s unrealistic and it makes unjustified assumptions,” he said.

Hoyer said that more federal investment, rather than less, is the key to elevating the country, in his mind.

“The president talks about how he wants to make America great again. I think America is great. And to continue to make sure that it is great and we continue to grow, we’ve got to invest in things that lead to that end,” he said.

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