The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it was canceling a federal grant to California worth nearly $1 billion after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the cancelation of the state’s high-speed rail project last week.
Newsom used his “State of the State” address Feb. 12 to cancel the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles project, saying it “would cost too much and, respectfully, would take too long” to complete.
However, he told legislators he wanted to complete the portion of the bullet train under construction in the rural Central Valley, lest the state lose federal dollars granted to California by President Barack Obama as part of the 2009 stimulus: “I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump,” Newsom said.
The president had other ideas, and took to Twitter to demand that California return the money. Newsom rejected that demand, insisting: “This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back.”
But on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) sent a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, informing it that it was terminating its agreement with the state and therefore would refuse to provide the state with $928,620,000 allocated to the high-speed rail project.
The FRA listed several factors informing its decision, including the likelihood that the high-speed rail would not be completed by 2022, as contemplated by the original agreement. The state’s high-speed rail authority had also failed, according to the FRA, to provide “timely and satisfactory financial reports” to the federal government.
The Los Angeles Times reported additionally that the Department of Transportation said it was “actively exploring every legal option” to recover the other $2.5 billion granted by the federal government to California for the project.
Newsom complained angrily that Trump was carrying out “political retribution” for California’s legal challenge Monday to his emergency declaration to build a barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border. He reiterated: “This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it,” according to a statement quoted by the Times.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.