Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), in the wake of an impressive primary win in the 7th District earlier in the month but considered to be vulnerable in November, broke with his party and voted against federal funding for Governor Jerry Brown’s besieged high-speed rail project.
The Sacramento Bee reported that three other freshman California Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives joined Bera to block the project. Consequently, that meant four of the six House Democrats who broke party rank were freshman California House Democrats. The other California Democrats were Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) of Palm Desert, Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) of Thousand Oaks, and Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) of San Diego. The remaining Democrats who voted to stop funding the bullet train project were John Barrow of Georgia and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) of Minnesota, both considered to be “Blue Dog Democrats,” a label given to Democratic fiscal conservatives.
The amendment, which curtails any federal funding for the high speed rail project, is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Ca). The bill passed the House 227-186, with all Republicans voting for it. Denham explained in a speech on the floor that California has not received any state or private funding for the project and should not be solely underwritten by federal taxpayers.
Berra supported the project in 2010, but has turned against it now that costs have tripled. “With the many critical infrastructure projects that need funding in California right now, like our levees, our bridges and roads, and other more highly traveled train routes, now is not the time to be spending billions in taxpayer dollars on this project,” he explained in a statement.