WASHINGTON — After more than a decade of pressing Congress for funding to build a new campus in the Washington suburbs, the FBI is now proposing that it keep some of its employees exactly where they are – on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington – and moving 2,300 out of the Washington area altogether, to Alabama, Idaho and West Virginia.

The proposal is a dramatic about-face from the stance the government took under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. For years the General Services Administration, which oversees federal real estate, had insisted to lawmakers and the public that the FBI required a suburban Washington campus where it could consolidate 11,000 FBI personnel in a modern and secure facility.

Instead, on Monday the Trump administration proposed keeping about 8,300 FBI headquarters staff in the Washington area, split between a new headquarters to be built in place of the aging J. Edgar Hoover Building and Quantico, Va., home to the bureau’s training academy.

Another 2,300 headquarters staff would move to new facilities around the country. Pocatello, Idaho would receive data center and administrative staff. Clarksburg, West Virginia, would receive criminal justice services, data center and biometrics employees. Huntsville, Alabama, would receive explosive analytics workers and staff.

Assistant Attorney General Lee Lofthus told reporters at a news briefing that $2.175 billion from the administration’s infrastructure budget would be added to FBI funds previously set aside for the project. He said the total $3.5 billion would afford “a modern and secure building” across the street from the Department of Justice headquarters but that there is no timeline available yet.

The new money is part of the administration’s infrastructure package, but still has to be approved by Congress. “This is an important part of the president’s infrastructure building and folks are pleased that we can have money for the FBI Building,” Lofthus said.

Despite President Trump’s repeated calls to “drain the swamp,” the decision still stunned FBI experts and members of Congress. The GSA and FBI spent several years, thousands of hours of staff time and millions of dollars securing approvals for sites in Greenbelt and Landover, in the Maryland suburbs, and in Springfield, Virginia.

Instead, in a 23-page report to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, obtained by The Washington Post, the GSA calls for a “nationally-focused consolidation plan.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called the decision “inconceivable.”

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