The Trump administration followed through Thursday on its threat earlier this year to cancel a $929 billion grant that was meant to have funded high-speed rail rail in California.
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared in his “State of the State” address that he was cutting back the proposed San Francisco-to-Los Angeles “bullet train,” telling legislators that after years of delays and cost increases, the project “would cost too much and, respectfully, would take too long.” He still hoped to build a segment of the rail project in the Central Valley, saying the state did not want to send $3.5 billion in federal money back to President Donald Trump.
But the president had other ideas, demanding that California repay the money immediately:
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 refused, claiming the money belonged to California. So the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) sent a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority informing it that it would be ending its agreement with the state, canceling the remaining $929 billion to be granted, and looking for ways to recover the $2.5 billion in federal funds already spent.
Again, Newsom complained, claiming that the president’s demand was “political retaliation” for the state’s opposition to the administration’s plans for a border wall.
Nevertheless, the Wall Street Journal noted, on Thursday the DOT made its cancelation of the grant official, telling state authorities in a letter: “It is now clear that California has no foreseeable plans, nor the capability, to pursue that statewide [High-Speed Rail] System as originally proposed.”
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.