The Trump administration is canceling a grant for the high-speed rail project in California because the state failed to deliver on the original goal of the project.
California Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom recently decided to significantly scale back the high-speed rail project initially planned to run from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
During the announcement of his decision, Newsom said he wanted to keep the federal money the state was getting from the federal government.
Newsom was defiant in his comment about federal funding, saying, “I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”
President Trump and Newsom exchanged views about the changes to the high-speed rail project on Twitter:
Fake news. We’re building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond.
This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back.
The train is leaving the station — better get on board!
(Also, desperately searching for some wall $$??) https://t.co/9hxEfEX8Vm
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) February 14, 2019
The Federal Railroad Administration notified the state by letter.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
In a letter to state officials, Federal Railroad Administrator Ronald Batory said the administration is planning to revoke its grant agreement with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, and halt $928.6 million in future grant payments it was expected to make to fund the project through 2022.
The FRA is also considering a legal effort to recover $2.5 billion in federal funds already spent on the project, which was originally set to link Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Newsom feels the action to halt funding of the project and to return federal funds is a retaliatory strike by President Trump in response to California suing to stop the president’s national emergency to fund construction of the border wall.
The Sacramento Bee reports:
Newsom, in a prepared statement, said “it’s no coincidence that the administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the president’s farcical ‘national emergency (seeking funding for a border wall).’ The president even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”
Watch Newsom’s speech on the high-speed rail project here.
President Trump is justified in seeking the return of the $3.5 billion since California backed away from the original goal of the project.