Imagine America if federal officials relocated federal agencies from Washington, D.C. to Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, and other states.
That’s what would happen if a bill that U.S. Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and U.S. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri proposed ever passes into law.
The two senators announced the bill, called the Helping Infrastructure Restore the Economy Act, otherwise known as HIRE, in a press release Wednesday. The legislation would move most federal agencies out of Washington, D.C. and into economically-distressed regions across the country.
Members of Blackburn’s staff said they could not answer The Tennessee Star’s questions about the legislation Wednesday. Members of Hawley’s staff, meanwhile, did not return repeated requests for comment.
But in a press release, Blackburn said “moving agencies outside of Washington, D.C. both boosts local economies and lowers costs.”
“This legislation would enable Americans across the country to have greater access to good jobs. Tennesseans would greatly benefit from having portions of the Department of Education in the Volunteer State,” Blackburn said.
“It is my hope that the HIRE Act will quickly pass the Senate.”
Hawley, in the same press release, said too much taxpayer money goes to Washington, D.C.
“That’s a big part of the problem with Washington: they’re too removed from the rest of America,” Hawley said.
“The HIRE Act will move policymakers directly into the communities they serve, creating thousands of jobs for local communities and saving taxpayers billions of dollars along the way.”
As the press release noted, the federal Bureau of Land Management recently announced plans to move to Colorado, while two Department of Agriculture agencies are moving to Kansas City. According to the language of the law, the HIRE Act would move 90 percent of the positions in 10 executive departments from D.C. to economically distressed regions in the following states:
• Agriculture to Missouri
• Commerce to Pennsylvania
• Education to Tennessee
• Energy to Kentucky
• Health and Human Services to Indiana
• Housing Administration to Ohio
• Interior to New Mexico
• Labor to West Virginia
• Transportation to Michigan
• Veterans Affairs to South Carolina
HIRE also would require that the federal government move most non-department agencies to economically distressed regions that have a geographic nexus to the agency, according to a press release.
“Moving agencies also is cheaper long term. Lease costs typically are lower outside D.C. Relocating agencies in the Department of Agriculture to Kansas City, according to one report, will save $300 million over 15 years,” the press release said.
“That report also notes that moving agencies outside D.C. similarly saves costs by decreasing employee attrition. Retaining quality employees is easier when costs of living are low, commute times are short, and federal salaries are high relative to the region.”
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