California lawmakers are trying to figure out how to move forward after the federal government asked the state to pay back billions of dollars from the high-speed rail project.
Governor Gavin Newsom says he thinks this is political retribution after the state sued the Trump Administration over a border wall but some lawmakers whose districts are directly affected by the high-speed rail aren’t convinced that’s the case.
The war of words continues on Twitter between the President and Governor Gavin Newsom.
President Trump tweeting in part Wednesday:
“California now wants to scale back their already failed “fast train” project… A different deal and record cost overruns. Send the Federal Government back the Billions of Dollars WASTED!”
“The political tit for tat masks what’s going on beneath the surface,” says Fresno Assemblyman Jim Patterson.
Patterson says the Federal Railroad Administration had concerns about the high-speed rail before President Trump took office.
“Every state that takes money from the federal government has to do so with the understanding that they have to do with the agreement if not, the authorities at the federal level are going to hold them accountable,” Patterson said.
The state has until March 5 to prove it’s complying with its agreement with the FRA, but if that’s unsuccessful, lawmakers say the federal government could give the state less money for other needs, like highways or the state and FRA could try to come to an understanding for a new agreement.
“We just keep moving forward, we’re going to build high-speed rail,” says Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
Becerra said on Wednesday would not weigh in on whether the federal fund cancellation is retribution from the lawsuit he filed in response to the president’s emergency declaration.
“The high-speed rail authority will likely be our client, so I would have to refer you to our client to comment on that,” Becerra said.
The High-Speed Rail Authority refers us to the governor’s office, but as of Wednesday night, the governor’s office is not yet expanding its comments on the situation.