President Trump wants California to pay back billions for bullet train

Newsom announced in his State of the State speech last week that he will focus on finishing the high-speed rail line now under construction that will run 171 miles through the Valley from Merced to Bakersfield, rather than the original plan to connect from the Bay Area to Los Angeles.

The dispute over the funding is the latest development in a feud between the president and the California governor and comes after the state filed a lawsuit in conjunction with 15 others earlier this week challenging the emergency declaration that Trump plans to use to fund a proposed border wall on the southern border. Mr Newsom is fighting the president over emergency funding for the border wall, so the Trump administration is going after the state's rail funding.

The Trump administration plans to cancel $929 million in USA money for California's beleaguered high-speed rail project and wants the state to return an additional $2.5 billion it's already spent.

Trump himself connected the two issues in a tweet Tuesday, "As I predicted, 16 states, led mostly by Open Border Democrats and the Radical Left, have filed a lawsuit in, of course, the 9th Circuit!"

"The president also tweeted last week that the project was a "'green' disaster" and that the state should pay back the federal government's "three and a half billion dollars" in the project. 'This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won't sit idly by'. But it has already spent the extra $2.5 billion that Trump now wants back.

"California's high-speed rail fantasy quickly became a train to nowhere at taxpayer expense", Schatz said.

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The move came a week after Newsom, in his State of the State address, said he wants to scale back the rail project, which is billions of dollars over budget, and focus on completing a stretch between Merced and Bakersfield.

In addition, the Department announced it is exploring every legal option to obtain the $2.5 billion in federal funds FRA previously granted California for the now-defunct project. Trump said in a tweet Wednesday morning. Congress appropriated the money in 2010. Jerry Brown, after costs doubled from initial projections, private investment failed to materialized and public support for the project deteriorated. Newsom said preliminary work on the entire system would continue and that he would seek more federal and private funding.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, a vocal critic of the project, said, "It doesn't matter what the state says about not giving the money back", he said.

"It is time is to move on from the broken high-speed rail project and redirect our efforts to infrastructure projects that work for Californians". It's unclear if the federal government can demand that money back before the 2022 deadline.

The statement from the Department of Transportation heightens the Trump administration's quest to recoup federal money spent on the project that was originally granted in 2009. Instead it could withhold money from other transportation projects.

  • Sonia Alvarado