Border wall, bullet train: California vs. Trump escalates

by Garry Watts February 21, 2019, 0:58
Border wall, bullet train: California vs. Trump escalates

Last week, Newsom said he planned to scale back plans for the rail project, which would have linked Los Angeles to San Francisco.

In response to the Department of Transportation's cancellation of the grant, Newsom told CNN in a statement, "It's no coincidence that the Administration's threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the President's farcical 'national emergency.' The President even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning". Mr Newsom is fighting the president over emergency funding for the border wall, so the Trump administration is going after the state's rail funding.

California's attorney general filed a lawsuit Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, against Trump's emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border.

It's the latest spat between Trump and California, which has styled itself as the Democratic-led "resistance" to the administration.

The FRA's decision to cancel the federal grant followed Governor Gavin Newsom's announcement on February 12 that the California high speed programme would be scaled back, but not cancelled outright. "We want that money back now", he wrote.

"The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!"

"California's high-speed rail fantasy quickly became a train to nowhere at taxpayer expense", Schatz said.

The administration wants to recover the rest of the $3.5 billion granted to California by President Barack Obama's administration for the project.

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President Donald Trump has continued to escalate tensions with California by calling on the state to return billions in federal funds for a high-speed rail.

"There are 47 other cities across California that are not complying with their planning requirements in one way or another", Newsom said.

That point was echoed in the Transportation Department's letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Newsom said the state is properly using the money to finish the segment in the Central Valley, a mostly rural agricultural region.

"It would be very important to avoid anything that would disrupt the economic recovery in the Central Valley that has been brought about by high-speed rail", he said. Because they are no longer able to claim more than $10,000 under the SALT deduction, it made more financial sense for California's rich to hold onto their money and earn interest until the April 15 filing deadline rather than paying the tax during 2018, as usual.

He's pledged to continue environmental work on the full line, which is required to keep the federal money.

Newsom called the move to withhold the money by the Trump administration retaliation for the state having filed the lawsuit the day before.

Tuesday's comments won't be the last; the administration has given California until March 5 to formally respond.

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