California GOP Calls for Halt to Bullet Train Funding

WASHINGTON — California’s Republican members of Congress have asked the Trump administration to block a federal grant that will ultimately support the state’s high-speed rail project until an audit of the project’s finances is completed.

The letter, signed by all 14 members of the state’s GOP delegation, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, was sent to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Congress members complain in the letter about cost increases, reductions in the project’s scope and its failure to attract private financing.

The letter asks Chao to stop approval of a $650-million grant that the Transportation Department could make to the Bay Area’s Caltrain commuter rail agency as part of an effort to install an electrical system. The bullet train would eventually use the same line from San Jose to San Francisco.

This latest effort to at least temporarily derail the multibillion-dollar project comes at a time when President Trump has been critical of California over immigration issues. He has even vowed to cut funding to the state.

At the same time, Trump says he plans to pursue a major increase in infrastructure funding. However, his opinion of the bullet train, the nation’s largest infrastructure project, is unknown.

California Democrats countered the Republicans’ letter with one of their own, asking that the grant be approved, and charging that the Republican’s letter misstated the fact that the grant was being sought by the rail authority, rather than the Caltrain joint powers board.

A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, issued a statement saying the Republicans’ letter was rife with “inaccuracies and innuendo” and arguing that blocking the train would cost California thousands of jobs and make commuting between San Francisco and Silicon Valley “dirtier, slower and more crowded.”

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