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Federal Budget Partially Funds FBI HQ, Includes Money For Metro And Purple Line

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Purple Line rendering
A rendering of a Purple Line train

Congress on Monday night released a bipartisan budget agreement to fund the federal government through September that has wide-ranging implications for the DC area, including for the Purple Line and the FBI headquarters. 

The spending bill maintains the $150M annual federal appropriation for Metro and includes a conditional $125M for the construction of the Purple Line in suburban Maryland, WTOP reports.

The $150M annual federal contribution to Metro is scheduled to run out next year, but local officials hope Congress will continue to support the transit system, which faces an uncertain funding future as it grapples with its $290M budget gap and prolonged ridership decline.

The $125M funding for the Purple Line is the first installment of an expected $900M in federal funding, and it is contingent on that full agreement being signed by September. Purple Line supports view the appropriation as a promising sign. 

"The key thing is that we can get the full funding grant agreement," Purple Line Now vice president Gregory Sanders said. "Putting the money towards it is a strong indication we will be able to do so. 

The light rail, expected to open in 2022, would span 16 miles from New Carrollton to Bethesda and has already sparked several new development projects along the route. The project has been on hold since a federal judge delayed construction in August in response to a lawsuit brought by skeptical Chevy Chase residents. Transit officials have responded to the judge's concerns and supporters hope a new ruling, expected to be made in the coming days or weeks, could move the project forward. 

"The ball is in his court right now," Sanders said of the judge. "As long as we're waiting every month is a termination risk because the private partner can walk away, and the delays are costing an estimated $13M a month for Maryland."

Hoover Building FBI HQ
The FBI's current HQ, the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue

The federal spending bill also includes a $523M appropriation for the FBI HQ project. This amounts to less than half of the $1.4B in federal funding the project needs, upsetting some local officials.

“Fully funding the new, consolidated FBI headquarters is a matter of national security," Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Anthony Brown (D-Md.) said in a joint statement. "While providing an additional $523 million is a significant step forward to continuing the project, we are disappointed that the project was not fully funded."

The General Services Administration has yet to announce which of the three sites in Greenbelt, Landover and Springfield it will select for the new 2.1M SF campus The agency delayed the decision in March, saying it could not move forward without appropriations. 

Former GSA real estate head Bob Peck said last week he does not expect GSA to announce its decision until 2018, given the appropriation issue and the agency's lack of permanent leadership.