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Ernst: Let’s Move Federal Agencies Out of the ‘Swamp’ and Closer to the People

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is leading the charge to move federal agency headquarters outside of “swampy” Washington, D.C. and closer to the people most impacted by the agencies’ decisions. This comes as the Trump Administration is making strides toward moving departments within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) outside the Beltway and closer to the communities and stakeholders they serve.  

“Washington-based federal agencies and bureaucrats make important decisions that impact the lives of Iowans, and all Americans. Yet, how can these rule makers fully consider and understand the effects of their decisions when those who are most impacted by their rules and regulations are out-of-sight and out-of-mind?  We need to fix that,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “Instead of housing federal agencies in swampy D.C., let’s move them outside the Beltway and closer to the folks who know the needs of their states, farms, and businesses best. And in the process, we will see more job creation and greater opportunities for communities across the country—not just in D.C.”

Senator Ernst’s Strategic Withdrawal of Agencies for Meaningful Placement (SWAMP) Act aims to distribute agency headquarters over geographically diverse areas of the nation to help ensure agencies focus on the stakeholders most impacted by their decisions, and not on the whims of the Washington bureaucracy, while also bringing good, stable jobs to new parts of the country.  Currently, the headquarters of nearly all executive branch agencies are clustered in and around Washington, D.C., concentrating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region. This legislation creates a competitive bidding process that allows states, cities, and towns across the country to compete to be an agency’s new home.

One example that highlights the importance of Ernst’s bill is the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule issued by former President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers. These types of rules—made by Washington-based bureaucrats—are often nonsensical or, in this case, have harmful impacts on the people these agencies serve. Had the folks writing this rule been in an office in the Midwest, they may have taken a different approach, knowing how this rule would impact communities outside of D.C.  


  • Repeals the section of the U.S. Code that requires federal agencies and departments to be located in Washington, D.C.
  • Prohibits agencies currently headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area from entering into new lease agreements, making significant renovations to their existing locations, or beginning construction on new facilities in the area.
  • Exempts the Executive Office of the President, the Department of Defense, and all other national security-related agencies that must be in close proximity to Congress and the White House.
  • Establishes a competitive bidding process to allow states and municipalities to compete for the relocated headquarters.