The move would bring one of the world's most notorious terrorism suspects to a courthouse just steps from the Capitol, officials say.
Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, was allegedly Osama bin Laden's point man in Indonesia.
Until his capture in August 2003, he was believed to be the main link between al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah, the terror group blamed for the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.
Other terrorism trials also might be held in Washington and New York City under a proposal being discussed within the Obama Administration, according to US officials.
The officials said the decision could come in a matter of weeks.
Authorities have begun reviewing the security measures needed to bring Hambali and others before a Washington federal judge, the officials said.
Conducting a trial in the nation's capital would be a symbolic repudiation of the policies of former President George Bush, who portrayed Hambali as a success story in his administration's program of interrogating terror suspects in secret CIA prisons overseas.
Mr Bush said such interrogations, which included the simulated drowning technique of waterboarding, helped crack alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and led authorities to Hambali.