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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (District of Columbia)

Sep 9, 2019

Press Release

Norton Will Ask Questions at Natural Resource Committee Hearing on Proposed BLM Relocation, Tomorrow

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced today she will introduce a bill to prohibit the relocation of any federal department or agency headquarters outside of the National Capital Region (NCR) without congressional approval.  The bill is a direct response to the Trump administration’s attempts to dismantle vital federal agencies that serve the American taxpayers.  To further her efforts to maintain federal agencies in the NCR, the Committee on Natural Resources will allow Norton to hear testimony and ask questions tomorrow at a hearing on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed relocation outside of the NCR.  Norton thanks Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) for allowing her to sit in on the hearing.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration proposed relocating the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as well as the BLM in the Interior Department outside of the National Capital Region.  In July, reports emerged that top scientists are deserting the USDA in high numbers, devastating the agency’s scientific work.  Unless measures are taken to stop the sabotage of other agencies, Norton fears the same outcome could await others.

“Federal workers provide the nation and the federal government with nonpartisan analysis and expertise that Congress and the President rely on to serve the American people,” Norton said.  “The fact is that in 2017, 79 percent of federal civilian employees were not only based outside of the nation’s capital, but beyond D.C., Maryland and Virginia.  In some instances, like the BLM, nearly ninety-five percent of staff are already employed outside the NCR.  Staff who remain in headquarters serve the vital role of keeping Congress and the President informed of their activities.

“I have already gotten some language in appropriations bills to deter politically motivated moves outside the nation’s capital.  These unprecedented moves are not about saving taxpayer money and usually have origins in inaccurate political talking points.  In the 1990s, the BLM moved its wildfire staff out West, only to move them back when Congress demanded briefings on new wildfires.  We can have a discussion on ways to make government work better, but politicians throwing cheap shots at the nation’s capital and the region, where thousands of expert public servants live and work, should not be part of that discussion.”

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