Trump seeks to recoup 'wasted' California high-speed rail funds

Trump seeks to recoup 'wasted' California high-speed rail funds

Trump seeks to recoup 'wasted' California high-speed rail funds

Gavin Newsom, a Democrat (shown above), declared during his State of the State address last week that he was shelving plans for the $77 billion rail project that had been championed by environmental groups, admitting that "as now planned, [it] would cost too much and take too long".

On Monday California filed a 16-state lawsuit against the president's office to block it from declaring a national emergency at the U.S. southern border in order to siphon funds from states to build physical barriers along the U.S. -Mexico boundary.

Despite the fact that Trump had previously declared support for high-speed rail (because countries like China have it), he mocked the California bullet train on Twitter and pointed out he's asking for far less for his border wall. The agreement states the federal government could offset the money it would pay California for different transportation or other projects.

In response to the Trump administration's legal threat Tuesday, Newsom vowed that he would not sit "idly by" as the White House engaged in what he called "political retribution" against California.

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that he was scrapping the project because it was too costly and would take too long.

However, after his announcement, President Donald Trump excoriated the project, tweeting on February 13, "We want that money back now".

The two federal grants represent about one-fourth of all the funding for the project to date - money critical to completing the Central Valley portion and finishing environmental reviews for other segments between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

A full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train is seen in Sacramento in 2017.

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The Obama administration awarded the state a total of $3.5 billion in 2010 and California voters in 2008 approved almost $10 billion in bond proceeds.

Newsom replied to the President in a tweet: "We're building high-speed rail", adding, "This is CA's money, allocated by Congress for this project".

The Transportation Department's Federal Railroad Administration said in a letter it wanted to halt funding because the state had "failed to make reasonable progress". The Trump administration is planning to cancel a $929 million federal grant for the project.

The train project has faced repeated cost overruns and delays since California voters approved it in 2008.

But in this case, Bauer said, "the governor unwittingly gave the federal government a reason to back away from the project".

The president also said that, besides allegedly wasting federal money, the state improperly changed the terms under which it received the federal government's funding. That work is a requirement for keeping the federal money. "However, we do have the capacity to complete a high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield".

Tuesday's comments won't be the last; the administration has given California until March 5 to formally respond.

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