President Joe Biden’s administration agreed Thursday to give nearly $1 billion in federal money back to California that President Donald Trump rescinded in 2019 after Governor Gavin Newsom canceled the state’s high-speed rail project.
In a statement, Newsom announced that “the U.S. Department of Transportation and the State of California finalized settlement negotiations to restore nearly a billion dollars in federal grant funding to California’s High-Speed Rail project. The action comes after months of negotiations to restore funding that was previously rescinded by the Trump Administration in 2019.”
Newsom added: “Restoring nearly $929 million in grant funding back to California’s High-Speed Rail project will continue to spur job creation, advance the project and move the state one step closer to getting trains running in California as soon as possible.” He specifically thanked Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
Last month, Newsom revealed that California had a $75.7 billion budget surplus — with $26.6 billion still unspent from President Biden’s so-called COVID “relief” bill, which sent large amounts of money to Democrat-governed states.
Breitbart News recalled the history of the high-speed rail project earlier this year:
Voters approved the initial bond funding for the high-speed rail project in 2008, under Proposition 1A. The newly-elected Obama administration spent billions of dollars on high-speed rail under then-Vice President Joe Biden’s leadership in the 2009 stimulus bill, though none of the projects amounted to much. Only California, under then-Gov. Jerry Brown, took high-speed rail seriously — though cost overruns, environmental concerns, and right-of-way concerns delayed the project.
As Breitbart News noted:[O]ver time, the project grew more and more expensive, rising from an initial estimate of $37 billion in 2008 to nearly $100 billion according to an estimate last year. In 2014, Breitbart News revealed that the “high-speed” train would not be so “high-speed” after all, running slower on tracks from San Jose to San Francisco, and from the San Fernando Valley into downtown Los Angeles. The earliest the project might have been completed was in 2033.
In 2019, newly-installed Gov. Newsom announced to the state legislature in his “State of the State” speech that the high-speed rail project would effectively be canceled, because it “would cost too much and, respectfully, would take too long.” He promised, however, that the state would still build a portion of the line under construction in the rural Central Valley.
Then-President Donald Trump did something few presidents had done before: he demanded that California return federal money it had taken for the project, since it was no longer planning to deliver on its promises. He canceled a $929 billion grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, and tweeted: “California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars. They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a “green” disaster!” Gov. Newsom resisted, to no avail.
Local backers of the project had hoped it would be rescued by the change of administration, with its “green” focus.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.