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Rep. Cuellar Helps Secure $1 Billion for Construction of Courthouses in FY21 Financial Services Appropriation Bill

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Funding will go to construction of new federal courthouse in McAllen 

Congressman Henry Cuellar. Photo by Roberto Hugo González
Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28). Photo by Roberto Hugo González
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Texas Border Business

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) helped secure over $1 billion for the construction and land acquisition for federal courthouses in the fiscal year 2021 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. This funding will help construct a new federal courthouse in McAllen, TX. This funding was secured in the Financial Service and General Government Subcommittee markup, it will then head to full Appropriations Committee markup.

“Construction of a new federal courthouse in McAllen will help the federal government meet the needs of a growing caseload as well as further enhance robust change occurring in and around downtown,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This investments in the McAllen federal courthouse will create economic growth in our communities while addressing the space constraints and aging infrastructure of the current federal courthouse. As a senior Appropriator, I will continue to fund programs that create transformational change to our community and ensure we can fulfill our duty to due process.”

“I want thank Appropriations Chairwoman Lowey and Ranking Chairwoman Granger as well as Appropriations Financial Service Subcommittee Chairman Quigley and Ranking Member Graves for working with me to secure these funds. I look forward to working with Senator Cornyn, Senator Cruz, Congressman Gonzalez, and Congressman Vela on this issue.”

Since 2010, Congressman Cuellar has worked with city officials to secure a new federal courthouse for McAllen. The Congressman secured a study in 2016 by the General Services Administration (GSA) to identify the feasibility of the construction of a new federal courthouse. The GSA study concluded that while the current facility located on U.S. Business 83 may be adequate for certain federal executive offices, the existing building is inadequate for judicial functions. Additional findings included security being an overall issue, especially regarding secure separation of judges, the public and prisoners. There is also not adequate room in the lobby for proper security screening.

Currently, the GSA leases 10,000 square feet for the federal court in McAllen, and it is currently insufficient for security reasons. The City of McAllen has offered to donate land for a new courthouse at the site of the old Sam Houston School, at Jackson Avenue and 16th Street, a few blocks from City Hall. This is an ideal downtown location and such a building there would help to revitalize the south side neighborhood as well as create local jobs.

The federal courthouse construction program is administered by the judiciary and the General Services Administration. The judiciary establishes priorities for courtroom construction projects. Below are the judiciaries top construction projects, which includes a new courthouse in McAllen, TX. 

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GSA Federal Buildings Fund – Courthouse Construction List

Felonies and Class A Misdemeanors Caseload – 2019

DistrictCityCaseloadFunding Priority 
SDTXMcAllen2,2826
DPRSan Juan1,1655
EDVANorfolk5507
MDNCGreensboro3614
EDTNChattanooga2422
DCNHartford1601
WDKYBowling Green483
District                     CitySite/Design Cost Construction CostEstimated Total Cost 
District of Connecticut Hartford$37.63 million$233.54 million$271.17 million
Eastern District of TennesseeChattanooga$32 million$157.11 million$189.11 million
Western District of KentuckyBowling Green$15.8 million$51.1 million$66.9 million 
Middle District of North CarolinaGreensboro$30.2 million$214.1 million$244.3 million
District of Puerto RicoSan Juan $9.38 million$176.12 million$185.5 million
Southern District of TexasMcAllen $27.49 million$170.97 million$198.46 million**
Eastern District of VirginiaNorfolk $12 million$104.7 million $136.5 million 
     

**The cost for the new courthouse in the Southern District of Texas will be less because the City of McAllen will donate the land.  

To read the language for the fiscal year 2021 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, click here.

To read more about the Federal Judiciary Courthouse Project Priorities for the fiscal year 2021, click here.

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