The Trump administration is weighing the risk to a “significant” amount of federal funds tied up in California’s high-speed rail project, a Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation Wednesday.
The federal government has spent about $3.5 billion in taxpayer money on grants to California to build a high-speed rail train connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles, former Republican California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore said on Fox News Wednesday. California Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted Tuesday, during his State of the State address, that the project may be scrapped.
“The Department has been in contact with the State of California regarding its high-speed rail project, which has received significant Federal funds. DOT officials remain in contact as they learn more about California’s plans for the project,” a DOT spokesman told TheDCNF in a statement.
“The Department’s Inspector General is continuing to conduct an audit of [the Federal Railroad Administration’s] funding for [California High Speed Rail Authority]. As the IG noted, continued management attention and strong oversight will remain critical to ensure that Federal funds are not subject to an unacceptable level of risk,” the DOT spokesman said.
Newsom, a Democrat, later attempted to clarify his Tuesday speech, saying that the project is not dead.
“We have to be realistic about the project — that means refocus and reprioritize to get a finished section from Bakersfield to Merced,” Newsom spokesman Jesse Melgar told TheDCNF Wednesday, adding that the governor intends on “completing the bookend projects and finishing the environmental review for the SF to LA leg.”
President Donald Trump weighed in on the confusion over the bullet train’s future Wednesday, calling on Newsom and California to pay back the taxpayer money the federal government granted the state for completion of the project.
“California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”
California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars. They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a “green” disaster!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2019
Newsom came to the defense of his state on Twitter, responding to Trump’s tweet and calling it “Fake news.”
“We’re building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond. This is [California’s] money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back. The train is leaving the station — better get on board! (Also, desperately searching for some wall $$??),” Newsom wrote.
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