Trump administration wants California to pay back billions for high-speed rail

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"The moves come a week after California Governor Gavin Newsom said during his state of the state address, that the high-speed railway project as now planned, would cost too much and take too long".

On Monday California filed a 16-state lawsuit against the president's office to block it from declaring a national emergency at the U.S. southern border in order to siphon funds from states to build physical barriers along the U.S. -Mexico boundary. 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.

The U.S. Department of Transportation wrote they are "actively exploring every legal option" to get back the $2.5 billion in federal grant funds already given to the state.

President Trump and Gavin Newsom are sparring over the state's scaling back its $77B bullet train. Newsom says California won't give back the high-speed rail money.

"The president also tweeted last week that the project was a "'green' disaster" and that the state should pay back the federal government's "three and a half billion dollars" in the project.

"This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won't sit idly by", Newsom said in a statement. The administration also wants to reclaim another $2.5 billion in federal funds already spent by California on the project.

But Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who represents Fresno, lashed out at the state's High Speed Rail Authority, calling it a rogue agency that has mismanaged the project and has torn up Fresno during construction without apparently having the money to finish.

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) praised the move, saying in a statement that "it is time is to move on from the broken high-speed rail project and redirect our efforts to infrastructure projects that work for Californians".

Newsom said he planned to refocus the high-speed rail project to link Merced and Bakersfield, a Central California route that by auto can take up to three hours. "A different deal and record cost overruns".

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, meanwhile, vowed to fight to keep the money, alleging that the move by the federal government was retaliation for the lawsuit. Congress appropriated the money in 2010.

The CBS affiliate in LA found an analyst to echo Newson's claim that "this is California's money", stating in the video above that it wasn't specified for only the high-speed rail project.

The DOT compounded this sentiment in a letter Tuesday, stating that California "materially failed to comply with the terms of the agreement and has failed to make reasonable progress on the project".

Newsom said the state is properly using the money to finish the segment in the Central Valley, a mostly rural agricultural region. He wants to refocus on building a line in central California. Instead it could withhold money from other transportation projects.