GOP Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio is slated to introduce a bill Thursday designed to move executive agencies outside the beltway.
Davidson said the idea that bureaucrats need to be concentrated in one location is outdated, and spreading them across the country makes sense from an economic standpoint.
“The premise that ‘oh everybody’s got to be in the same town’ goes back to a period where you had to ride horses for weeks on end to get out to Ohio from D.C. or the best means of communication is you had a telegraph, that’s when a lot of these federal buildings were built,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “You didn’t even have fax machines – FedEx wasn’t even around. Today you’ve got fax machines, FedEx, the internet, WebEx, video conferencing and massive improvement in transportation systems.”
If the Drain the Swamp Act, inspired by President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, is implemented, just 10 percent of an agency’s staff would be allowed to be located in the Washington, D.C.- metropolitan area. In doing this, Davidson said the government could profit by selling expensive real estate and relocating to less expensive areas across the United States more suited to deal with the policy areas the agencies handle.
“Instead of having a bunch of people based in D.C. where the closest thing to agriculture is, you know, a flower pot hanging on a window sill – is different than hiring farm families based in the Midwest,” he said of moving the Department of Agriculture to a more rural location. “So, I think you could change the work force, you could change the cost of living and you could sell some really expensive real estate, buy some pretty inexpensive real estate and probably do it in a way that’s actually cash-flow positive.”
Davidson noted five of the top 10 wealthiest counties in the United States surround Washington, D.C., adding by moving agencies around the country could stimulate economic growth in areas that need it.
“Why is that? It’s not because government service in itself is valuable, it’s the impact of the government agencies in a lot of cases,” he continued. “So I think that sure, the Virginia and Maryland delegations may not be very happy, but you know folks that are out there in the fly-over country that would be competing for some of these jobs would be very excited about it.”
Davidson said he has some positive feedback from his colleagues and his office is working on gaining cosponsors. He said he discussed the idea with House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah last year, who is putting forth a separate resolution on the topic, but his bill go a bit further.
Chaffetz said he hasn’t seen Davidson’s bill yet, but thinks the idea makes sense.
“I have my own, it’s just a resolution, but I think the notion by default these agencies should continue to grow and expand in Washington, D.C., it’s just wrong,” Chaffetz told TheDCNF. “Our government would be closer to the people, more reflective of the people if they were based outside of the greater Washington, D.C. area.”
Chaffetz said he is looking forward to the proposal being taken in up committee, adding he presented the resolution to the Republican Study Committee Wednesday.