California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) stated recently that the Biden administration and California state had struck an agreement to reinstate a roughly $1 billion bullet train grant canceled by President Trump, who had dubbed the project a “disaster.”
“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 The action comes after months of negotiations to restore funding that was previously rescinded by the Trump Administration in 2019,” Newsom said in a statement on Thursday, June 10.
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 notably thanked Pete Buttigieg, the Secretary of Transportation.
The project has been dubbed a “train to nowhere” by critics, while others argue that it is a vital test and forerunner to connecting more populated areas.
Caitlyn Jenner, a Republican candidate for California governor, said that she would accept the $929 million grant and use it to complete Trump’s border wall.
“Right now we’re spending billions on a high-speed train to nowhere,” she told KABC in an interview. “Take some of that money, go down to the border wall and completely finish on state land. Completely finish the wall. We need protection.”
Her comments came after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency reported apprehending 180,034 people illegally entering the country in May, the largest monthly total in 21 years, spurring demand for increased border security.
Last month, Newsom announced that California has a $75.7 billion budget surplus, with $26.6 billion left over from President Biden’s so-called COVID “relief” measure, which funneled massive sums of money to Democrat-controlled states.
History of California bullet train proposal and Trump’s criticism
As noted by Breitbart News, Proposition 1A, adopted by voters in 2008, provided the initial bond money for the high-speed rail project. Under then-Vice President Joe Biden’s leadership, the newly-elected Obama administration committed billions of dollars on high-speed rail in the 2009 stimulus bill, albeit none of the projects were successful. Only California, under then-Gov. Jerry Brown took high-speed rail seriously, though the project was delayed due to cost overruns, environmental concerns, and right-of-way issues.
The project’s cost has risen steadily over time, from an initial estimate of $37 billion in 2008 to about $100 billion according to a recent estimate. Breitbart News reported in 2014 that the “high-speed” train would not be so “high-speed” after all, traveling slower on tracks between San Jose and San Francisco, as well as from the San Fernando Valley into downtown Los Angeles. The project may have been completed as early as 2033.
In his “State of the State” speech in 2019, newly-installed Governor Gavin Newsom informed the state legislature that the high-speed rail project would be effectively scrapped because it “would cost too much and, respectfully, would take too long.” However, he guaranteed that the state would continue to build a segment of the line currently under construction in the Central Valley’s rural areas.
Then-President Trump, at the time, did something few presidents had done before: he asked that California return federal funds it had received for the project since it no longer intended to follow through on its pledges. He tweeted that he has revoked a $929 billion grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation:
“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!”
The U.S. Department of Transportation explained its decision in a letter, claiming that California officials had “failed to make reasonable progress” and had not kept their end of the funding arrangement.