Shortly after the governor of California announced the state would be scaling down its billions-of-dollars high-speed rail project, the president leaped on it to call for California to return the money “now.”
Facing cost hikes and challenges, the $77.3 billion high-speed rail that was promised to go from San Francisco to Los Angeles, is seeing a cut.
President Donald Trump accused the state of being “forced to cancel” the bullet train project, which “wasted many billions of dollars.”
He went on to claim the California officials “owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars.”
“We want that money back now,” President Trump added. “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
California Gov. Gavin Newsom swiped back at the president’s claim, labeling it as “fake news.”
“This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project,” Newsom said in response to President Trump calling for a return of the money. “We’re not giving it back.”
“The train is leaving the station — better get on board!” Newsom wrote, also suggesting President Trump is “desperately searching” for money for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
However, Trump’s assessment may have merit.
“If the Authority does not complete the construction by the federal government’s December 2022 deadline, it may need to repay $3.5 billion,” State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote in a November 2018 audit.
Fake news. We’re building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond.
This is CA’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 $$??) https://t.co/9hxEfEX8Vm
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) February 14, 2019
In 2017, the state of California received $2.6 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, while receiving an additional $929 million in 2018, totaling the $3.5 billion, according to Politico.
“Let’s be real,” Newsom told lawmakers on Tuesday during his first State of the State address. “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”
The governor added that there “simply isn’t a path” to get the rail from “Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. (Los Angeles). I wish there were” — also noting there will be a 119 mile rail in the Central Valley.
“Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions and billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises, partially filled commitments and lawsuits to show for it,” Newsom said on Tuesday, adding he’s “not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called out the “wasted” funding.
“The train to nowhere is finally stopped,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter in response. “I look forward to working w/ Governor Newsom and federal officials in the coming weeks to best mitigate what has already been wasted on high-speed rail due to the previous Administration.”