Hoyer, Norton Lead Letter Questioning USDA Plans to Relocate Offices Outside the DC Area

USDA Logo

Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) released a letter today they sent to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue expressing concern regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposal to move the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) out of the National Capital Region.  The current headquarters facility for NIFA is in General Services Administration (GSA) leased space in Washington, D.C.  Numerous Virginia and Maryland Congressional figures were co-signers of the letter.

The letter questions the legality of the proposed USDA move, as well as the rationale and process of the proposal, and requests that USDA refrain from taking further action until the outstanding questions around this proposal are addressed to the satisfaction of the committees of jurisdiction.

It is signed by the entire National Capital Region Congressional delegation, including Senators Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Representatives Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), David Trone (D-MD), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).

“I remain extremely opposed to the proposal to relocate the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture outside of the National Capital Region,” said Congressman Hoyer. “This relocation threatens to undermine the important work of these agencies and disrupt the lives of hundreds of federal employees and their families.  Until USDA fully and satisfactorily explains the reasons for this move, the legal authority it has to commit to a new lease, the steps it has taken to ensure that the effectiveness of these agencies will be strengthened – not weakened – and the cost-benefit analysis underlying its actions, USDA should not move forward with the relocation.”

“This proposal is particularly troubling as the Office of the Inspector General has called for delaying the USDA’s plans and Congress has requested, but not received, additional information,” Congresswoman Norton said. “Until Congress has been consulted, it would be foolhardy to move forward with the potentially illegal action of moving the ERS and NIFA.”

In the letter Members wrote, “The USDA has cited three reasons for its proposal to move ERS and NIFA away from the nation’s capital but has supplied insufficient evidence to support the accuracy of those reasons.  You specifically cited the USDA’s inability to attract and retain highly qualified staff, a need to place USDA resources closer to stakeholders and to reduce costs of employees and real estate.”  The lack of answers from USDA is particularly concerning.

Besides Hoyer and Norton, signers of the letter were:

Benjamin L. Cardin
United States Senator

Mark R. Warner
United States Senator

Tim Kaine
United States Senator

Chris Van Hollen
United States Senator

C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger
Member of Congress

John P. Sarbanes
Member of Congress

Gerald E. Connolly
Member of Congress

Donald S. Beyer, Jr.
Member of Congress

Anthony G. Brown
Member of Congress

Jamie Raskin
Member of Congress

David Trone
Member of Congress

Jennifer Wexton
Member of Congress

Comments