Trump Administration Demands California Pay Back Over $2 Billion for Bullet Train

WASHINGTON DC- FEBRUARY 15 U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on border security during a Rose Garden event at the White House
Trump criticizes California over suit against border wall
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21 February, 2019

President Donald Trump escalated a feud with California on Wednesday by demanding that the USA state repay $3.5 billion from a failed high-speed rail project that was to have linked Los Angeles (LA) and San Francisco. Just last week, Governor Newsom rightfully acknowledged the failure, saying: 'ultimately, the current project, as planned, would cost too much and take too long'. "And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump".

His administration plans on cancelling $929m (£711m) in grants for what Mr Trump has called a "failed" project.

The transportation department's announcement came one day after California led a coalition of 16 states to sue the Trump administration over the president's decision to declare a national emergency for border wall funding. "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.

Still, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Newsom's remarks reinforced concerns about the project's ability to deliver.

The project has faced cost overruns and years of delays.

According to California Governor Gavin Newsom, his state will have to scale the project back dramatically, although a smaller section of the line will still be completed.

"We want that money back now", the president wrote February 13.

Batory alleged that the state had failed to spend required matching funds, falling short by $100 million as of December.

Additionally, the letter pointed out that the project would not have been completed by 2022, when the state agreed to complete the work.

"But let's be real", Newsom said in the speech to lawmakers.

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"Right now there simply isn't a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A.", he said. He wants to refocus on building a line in central California.

The federal money comes with certain requirements that the Trump administration says California won't meet. But Newsom's office later clarified that he meant only that "we have to be realistic about the project". Congress approved the funding for the train nearly a decade ago. That figure includes the cost of the Valley segment.

The federal action to terminate the grant wades into uncharted legal territory. Not only is the project not what was presented to the FRA, it's not what was presented to the voters when they first approved the project back in 2008.

"You have to see it out of the eyes of those out of the hundreds of thousands of people that are out on the streets and sidewalks at any given night", Newsom said.

Although the federal regulators alleged that the state violated the terms of the grant, Bauer said such performance is typical in federal funding for transportation.

Newsom administration officials last week said they are working on a "project update" report to be published some time this spring, and are expected to include a new financial analysis.

Still, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has already budgeted for the full $3.5 billion. "But there is no love lost".

'It is time to move on from the broken high-speed rail project and redirect our efforts to infrastructure projects that work for Californians, ' said U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, a city on the train's route.

Assemblyman Vince Fong also released a statement in response. The state has not started spending that money. "The feds can, in fact, claw that money back".


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