Rail fail: Trump puts stop to $1 billion grant to California

by WorldTribune Staff, February 20, 2019

California Gov. Gavin Newsom charged that President Trump was carrying out “political retribution” after the Trump administration announced it was canceling a federal grant allocating nearly $1 billion to California for high-speed rail.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and President Donald Trump

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on Feb. 19 said it sent a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority saying that the FRA was terminating its agreement with the state and would refuse to provide the state with $928,620,000 allocated to the high-speed rail project.

Newsom said the move was “political retribution” for California’s legal challenge to Trump’s emergency declaration to build a barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Los Angeles Times reported on Feb. 19.

The governor reiterated: “This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it,” according to a statement quoted by the Times.

In his Feb. 12 “State of the State” address, Newsom announced the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles high-speed rail project would be canceled, saying it “would cost too much and, respectfully, would take too long” to complete.

Related: Green fail: Trump wants fed money ‘back now’ after Calif. hits brakes on high-speed rail, February 14, 2019

In the address, Newsom said construction on a portion of the high-speed rail line in the rural Central Valley would continue so California would not have to return funds granted for the project by President Barack Obama as part of the 2009 stimulus:

“I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump,” Newsom said.

Trump took to Twitter to demand that California return the money. Newsom rejected that demand, insisting: “This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back.”

The LA Times report also noted that the Department of Transportation is “actively exploring every legal option” to recover the other $2.5 billion granted by the federal government to California for the rail project.

In its letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the FRA said its decision to cancel the grant was based on several factors, including the likelihood that the high-speed rail would not be completed by 2022, as contemplated by the original agreement. The state’s high-speed rail authority had also failed, according to the FRA, to provide “timely and satisfactory financial reports” to the federal government.

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