Border wall, bullet train: California vs. Trump escalates

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 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.

Newsome is also wrestling with President Donald Trump over funding for California's high-speed rail project, which the governor canceled earlier this month.

California is leading a 16-state coalition in challenging Trump's power to declare an emergency so he can accelerate his plans for a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border.

California's leaders have offered their state as a "counter-proposal" to Trump's America - a demonstration that progressive policies and regulations can go hand-in-hand with economic growth and well-being.

"This is California's money, and we are going to fight for it", said Newsom with regards to the railroad funds.

"This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won't sit idly by", Newsom said in a statement.

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it is looking into cancelling the $929m grant as well as recovering a $2.5bn grant already being spent by the state.

A full-scale mockup of a high-speed train on display at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., in 2015. The price of the project skyrocketed from $45 billion to $77 billion.

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

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.

"Unfortunately, President Trump is playing politics with California's jobs, infrastructure, and economy", he said in an emailed statement. The agreement states the federal government could offset the money it would pay California for different transportation or other projects.

He claimed the "failed Fast Train project" was beset by "world record setting" cost overruns and had become "hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!"

He's pledged to continue environmental work on the full line, which is required to keep the federal money. This is federal money, of which California has wasted enough on its farcical high-speed rail project.

Newsom said the state is properly using the money to finish the segment in the Central Valley, a mostly rural agricultural region.

But in this case, Bauer said, "the governor unwittingly gave the federal government a reason to back away from the project".

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

  • Jon Douglas