Attempts to move major agencies of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) out of the DC area were stymied Tuesday, as the House of Representatives passed an amendment by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
The amendment would prohibit the General Services Administration (GSA) from using its funds to relocate the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) or the Economic Research Service (ERS) outside of the National Capital Region.
The House also voted to prohibit USDA from using its funds to relocate these agencies outside of the National Capital Region. The amendment was cosponsored by Majority Leader Hoyer (D-MD) and Representatives Titus (D-NV), Connolly (D-VA), Raskin (D-MD), Sarbanes (D-MD), Trone (D-MD), Brown (D-MD), Wexton (D-VA) and Beyer (D-VA).
“Not only does USDA lack the legal or budget authority to carry out this relocation, but they have violated the real estate procurement process and are making a move that is not in the best interest of their employees or the taxpayers,” Norton said.
“This relocation is about ideology and politics, nothing more,” she said. “The decision was made before any cost-benefit analysis could be done or the consequences evaluated. Simply put, these employees are being punished for doing their jobs of conducting nonpartisan, evidence-based science. We will fight this relocation using every tool at our disposal.”
In June, USDA announced it would relocate 547 out of the 644 employees of these agencies from the National Capital Region to the Kansas City Region. The USDA Office of Inspector General, at the request of Norton and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), began a review of the relocation in November 2018. That review is ongoing.