House passes bill that gives DC control over RFK Stadium site

The House voted Wednesday in favor of giving the D.C. government full control over the old RFK Stadium site and surrounding land. 

Inside the House chamber, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton started things off with an opening statement.  

She's the co-sponsor of the bill with Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer. FOX 5 spoke to Norton to ask why it’s so important for D.C. to have decision-making authority over the old RFK Campus.

"It’s actually going to be used for commercial and housing but the affordable housing is particularly important because, in the District, we can’t build high because of all the monuments and therefore there is limited housing here. That is one of the most important parts of this bill," Norton said. 

Congress was asked to approve a plan that would give the District a 99-year lease over the 174-acre site along the Anacostia River.  The current lease is up in 14 years and does not give the District authority over what to do with the property.  

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The new deal allows D.C. to green-light construction of homes and businesses, create parks and other open spaces and perhaps lure the Washington Commanders back to the District. 

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Maryland Congressman Glenn Ivey have both spoken out about this legislation.

 "Well listen, you know how long we’ve been working to get control of RFK for a long enough period of time where the District can make significant investment in it and we’re very close to getting there. It’s over 100 acres sitting on a very prominent. Monumental access on a river and it needs, we need to remove the blight and have great development," Bowser said. 

But Maryland lawmakers aren’t so quick to support the bill, knowing it could be a draw to take the Commanders out of their state. 

"I’m opposing the bill although I’m not opposing DC redeveloping the area. The goal here is, Prince George's County and Maryland want to have a chance to compete for the Commanders and keep them at FedEx Field where they’ve been now for about a quarter of a century. We just want to make sure we have a level playing field to compete," Ivey said. 

The Senate and President Joe Biden are expected to go along with the House's approved plan.

"I’m pleased that the House passed my bipartisan bill with Chairman Comer to allow local D.C. to redevelop the RFK Stadium campus," Norton said in a statement after the bill passed. "During my tenure in Congress, I’ve worked to transfer control of underused federal land in the District to local D.C. so it can be put to productive use. Thank you to Chairman Comer for your partnership on this important issue."

Mayor Bowser added: "Tonight’s vote was a significant step forward in our efforts to unlock the full potential of the RFK Campus — for our residents and visitors, the community, and DC’s Comeback. H.R. 4984 received overwhelming, bipartisan support and we want to thank House Oversight Chair James Comer, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and all of the co-sponsors for championing this legislation. We look forward to working with the Senate to swiftly advance this legislation."

"Today’s passage of the D.C. Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium Campus Revitalization Act represents Congress doing its job to oversee the District," said House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer. "This bipartisan legislation will repurpose approximately 174 acres of unused federal land in the nation’s capital and provide the District with an opportunity to create meaningful new jobs, add millions in city revenue, and transform the Anacostia River waterfront into a top-tier destination for residents and visitors. Absent congressional action, this land would sit unused, and the ongoing maintenance costs and environmental liabilities would remain the full responsibility of the federal government. This legislation was long overdue, and I look forward to working with the Senate to advance this bill to the President’s desk."