Trump Admin Plans To Cancel $929M For California High-Speed Rail

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom elected governor of California

California on Monday led a group of more than a dozen states in a lawsuit to block President Donald Trump from diverting funds from the federal budget to pay for his promised border wall.

The US president initially linked the border wall and California bullet train in a tweet earlier in the week, claiming the rail project was hundreds of times more expensive than "the desperately needed Wall!"

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is canceling a $929 million grant to the California High-Speed Rail project and "actively exploring every legal option" for the return of $2.5 billion it has already contributed, it said Tuesday.

Among other things, the federal agency said Gov. Gavin Newsom's plans to downsize the project represent "a significant retreat from the state's initial vision and commitment and frustrates the goal for which federal funding was awarded".

The move by the Trump administration is just the next round in a long battle with the largely Democratic state over immigration and other issues.

Trump has lambasted California's high-speed rail project, in the works for more than a decade, as wasteful and called for the state to return federal funding. 'This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won't sit idly by'.

This railway system would have ultimately allowed trains to travel at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour (354 km/h), connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco.

A full-scale mockup of a high-speed train on display at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., in 2015.

The administration wants to recover the rest of the $3.5 billion granted to California by President Barack Obama's administration for the project.

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Now, Newsom said he plans to build a high-speed line in California's Central Valley from Merced to Bakersfield instead.

"Unfortunately, President Trump is playing politics with California's jobs, infrastructure, and economy", he said in an emailed statement.

The train project has faced repeated cost overruns and delays since California voters approved it in 2008. Newsom said preliminary work on the entire system would continue and that he would seek more federal and private funding.

The government is also looking to collect on some of Californa's unpaid bills from the project.

The federal money comes with certain requirements that the Trump administration says California won't meet.

The Federal Railroad Administration determined that the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the state-run organization tasked with overseeing the project "has materially failed to comply with the terms" of the agreement that promised $929m in federal funds for construction, Batory wrote in a letter to Brian Kelly, the authority's chief executive. The state has not started spending that money.

Newsom says that he's not giving the money back, but the California high speed rail board told The New York Times that they see the government's decision as an open offer to negotiate.

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

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