Both of California’s U.S. Senators, and 16 of its 53 House Representatives — all Democrats — wrote a letter to the Trump administration Wednesday demanding that the federal government provide the state with money promised for the high-speed rail project — even though Gov. Gavin Newsom canceled that project last month.
In a joint letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Sens. Kamila Harris and Dianne Feinstein, along with the other 16, wrote:
The High Speed Rail project is already well underway on its first segment through the Central Valley. More than 2,600 workers and 488 small businesses are hard at work at 20 construction sites. The federal government has only funded $2.5 of the $6 billion spent to date, and has only committed to provide another $929 million after the state spends $X billion more of its own resources. This is a much smaller federal share than the 80 percent typically provided for new highway construction. Completion of this work would meet the fundamental purpose for which federal funds were granted.
Cancelling the Department’s commitment to fulfill its outstanding legal obligations and attempting to claw back funding already lawfully spent would be unjustified and harmful. This unprecedented action would invite years of litigation and would cause the Federal government to be rightly viewed as an unreliable and politically-motivated partner on all future infrastructure investments throughout the country.
The letter does not mention that the overall project was canceled last month because it would “cost too much … and take too long,” nor that the project will fail to meet its contractual deadline of completion by 2022.
Trump and Newsom have feuded publicly over the money, with the Department of Transportation withholding the $929 million grant and seeking ways to recover the other $2.5 billion in federal funding spent.
Experts cited by the Los Angeles Times agreed that it was unprecedented for the federal government to demand the return of money that was unspent or misspent, though it is common practice in the private sector.
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.