In this handout image provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Construction of the Muscat Avenue Viaduct seen west of State Route 99, just east of Cedar Avenue on July 13, 2017 in Fresno, California..

California High-Speed Rail Authority via Getty Images

California Sues Trump Administration Over High-Speed Rail

Doug Sovern
May 21, 2019 - 9:55 pm

OAKLAND — California is suing the Trump administration again — this time, over high speed rail.

Gov. Newsom announced Tuesday that the state will try to keep the administration from taking back almost $1 billion earmarked for California's bullet train project.

Last week, President Trump instructed the Federal Railroad Administration to cancel $929 million that Congress appropriated for the first phase of Golden State's high-speed rail system.

Cancelling the funds is illegal and a blatantly political move by the White House that seeks retribution for California's opposition to Trump's plan for a border wall, Newsom said at a news conference in Oakland. 

"It was a petulant act by a petulant president," Newsom told KCBS Radio. "It's par for the course."

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He said the state filed suit in federal district court in San Francisco to block the president's maneuver, and is also seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the administration from using the railroad funds for some other purpose.

Newsom said allowing a president to rescind funds that were already appropriated by Congress would set a dangerous precedent.

"It puts every large-scale construction project in the United States of America at risk," Newsom said. "You would have no trust or confidence in an appropriation."

Newsom said the law is clear, and he's confident the courts will rule in California's favor. He accused Trump of "flexing his muscle" for political gain, pointing out that this isn't the first time the president has sought to punish California for clashing with him politically.

"He's not reimbursing local fire departments for the 2018 wildfires," Newsom said. "They're trying to find every area they can to be disruptive in a purely political way."

The administration claims that since California is unlikely to meet the 2022 deadline to complete the first leg of the railroad, it will fail to meet the guarantees that apply to the federal funds, and therefore, the government can take them back.

Newsom is determined to build the rail project but has indicated he might scale it back from the ambitious plan laid out by his predecessor, former Gov. Jerry Brown. The project has been plagued by delays, legal challenges, and ballooning cost estimates.

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