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California Congressman Calls On Federal Government To Take Back High Speed Rail Funding

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo
In this Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, a full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train is displayed at the Capitol in Sacramento.

A Northern California congressman is calling on the federal government to take back money it gave the state for high-speed rail development.

Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa of Butte County introduced the High-Speed Rail Refund Act, saying it's time to kill what he calls a misguided project. The resolution directs the Secretary of Transportation to take all necessary actions to get California to return the funds.

"I'm removing money from a wasteful project into something that could be much more useful for a lot more Californians or others," LaMalfa said. "We could put it into highways or other transportation projects, something that we could boost up our levy system with — anything!"

The state was awarded $3.5 billion from the federal government for the project, including $2.5 billion that has already spent. The Trump Administration said it now plans to cancel $929 million awarded to the project, and wants the state to return the money it had already spent.

High-Speed Rail's CEO Brian Kelly issued a recent statement saying the project has already met federal deadlines under the agreement, and any "clawback" of federal funds "would be disastrous policy" and would only hurt the people of the Central Valley and California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced changes to the $77 billion high speed rail plan in his State of the State address last month.

In a statement following the administration's announcement it intended to cancel funding for the project, Newsom said he had no intention of returning the money.

"This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won't sit idly by," Newsom said in a statement. "This is California's money, and we are going to fight for it."

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