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California Sues Trump Administration for Canceling $1b Bullet Train Grant

— May 23, 2019

California Gov. Gavin Newsom claims the administration is punishing the state for pushing back against the president’s border wall.

California is suing the Trump administration over its decision to cancel a high-value grant for the state’s struggling bullet train.

The lawsuit, reports The Los Angeles Times, was filed in federal court Tuesday. The complaint accuses Washington of playing politics with its funds, pulling nearly $929 million from California’s ongoing rail project.

Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that the Federal Railroad Administration—a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Transportation—canceled the grant in violation of federal law, justifying its decision with an inaccurate appraisal of the project’s lack of progress.

In an early May evaluation, the F.R.A. said that California has “repeatedly failed to comply” with the funds’ terms of allocation and “failed to make reasonable progress on the project.”

But California claims that the Federal Railroad Administration’s rationale was more nefarious, guided by President Trump’s “overt hostility” to the nation’s most populous state.

In deciding to withhold funds, the F.R.A. is allegedly “in violation of its own procedures and policies.” The cancellation, says California, “was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law, and threatens to wreak significant economic damage on the Central Valley and the State.”

A 2013 image of current California Gov.–then Attorney General–Gavin Newsom. Image via Flickr/user:JD Lasica. (CCA-BY-2.0).

By suing, California is seeking an injunction to keep the grant intact.

Reuters reports that, along with an injunction, the state further plans to petition for an immediate, temporary restraining order that’d prevent the Federal Railroad Administration from diverting the nearly-billion-dollar award to other projects.

The office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom will use the restraining order as an opportunity to argue that “the real motive underlying FRA’s action was political: to punish California for opposing President Trump’s border wall.”

And the state, says The Los Angeles Times, offered some evidence of malice its complaint.

Recounting the sequence of events leading up to the F.R.A.’s cancellation, California notes that, on Feb. 19, it and 15 other states sued the federal government to invalidate Trump’s declaration of emergency along the U.S.-Mexico order. Shortly afterward, the president responded angrily on Twitter, saying the lawsuit was led by California, “the state that has wasted billions of dollars on their out of control Fast Train, with no hope of completion.”

“Later that same days,” adds the complaint, “in a curt, three-page letter, the FRA abruptly notified the authority of its intent to terminate its grant agreement.”

For its part, the F.R.A. has criticized California for accepting a large grant and then altering its schedule of use—right now, California has scaled back its high-speed ambitions, focusing on completing a small section of tract.

But most of the $929 million was meant for a line that’d be built between San Francisco and Los Angeles. That project, at least for the time being, is on hold for the foreseeable future.

However, Newsom argues that the grant hasn’t been paid out—and California isn’t planning to use the funds until at least 2021. The sudden, unexpected cancellation is so confounding that California has suggested it’ll cause confusion for other states, too.

“The money’s been appropriated,” Gov. Newsom said. “Basically, it puts every large-scale infrastructure project in the United States at risk. You would have no trust or confidence in an appropriation.”


California high-speed rail agency sues Trump administration for canceling grant

California sues Trump administration over $1 billion in canceled high-speed rail money

California sues Trump administration over withholding high-speed rail funds

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