Legislation Would Prevent New Agency Construction and Renovations within D.C.
An integral theme of President Donald Trump’s 2016 bid was the notion of “draining the swamp.”
The Strategic Withdrawal of Agencies from Meaningful Placement (SWAMP) Act is Rep. Luke Messer’s (R-IN) attempt to take up that banner within the House of Representatives.
The bill states that, upon enactment, no new construction or major renovations may be undertaken, or lease agreements entered into or renewed” for federal agency headquarters based in Washington, D.C., “except as otherwise expressly provided by law.”
GovExec notes the bill “would repeal a requirement in place since the country’s infancy that requires federal agency headquarters to be located in the capital, while creating a bidding process for states or municipalities to entice agency heads to move offices inside their borders.”
“There’s no reason why the Department of Agriculture has to be in the District of Columbia when it could be located in Indiana or another heartland state,” Rep. Messer claimed.
Messer’s press release notes that “more than 1.7 million jobs, or 52 percent of jobs in the Washington, D.C. metro area, are tied to the federal government.”
However, only 15 percent of all federal employees work in the Metropolitan D.C. area, with an overwhelming 85 percent scattered across the rest of the country.
Messer is not the only representative to propose the idea, former House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced a similar measure last year. Chaffetz’ language passed Committee, but has yet to receive a floor vote.
Kristine Simmons, the Partnership for Public Service’s vice president of government affairs, suggested the legislation lacks thoroughness in considering the true ramifications of such a sweeping change, suggesting that an effort to push agencies from their longstanding homes in the nation’s captal should serve as more than a “symbolic statement moving agencies out of the ‘swamp.’”
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