Congress Cuts Federal Funding for California's High Speed Rail

Photo via California High-Speed Rail AuthorityCalifornia's plans to take the lead in a nationwide high-speed rail system was endangered Thursday after the House approved a spending bill, eliminating federal high-speed rail funding for fiscal year 2012, reported the AP.

Starting in California, the national transportation project from President Barack Obama was targeted by Republicans when they took over the House last year.

The president had requested $8 billion in fiscal 2012 and $53 billion over six years.

The measure cutting high-speed rail funding came from a compromise with Democrats to avoid a government shut-down, and approved by The House 298-121 and then the Senate 70-30, sending it to White House.

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Republicans "trumpeted what they said was the death" of Obama's six-year, $53 billion plan, reported USA Today, which noted Republicans support the idea that the future of high-speed rail connects Boston, New York, Philadelphia and D.C., not California and the rest of the country.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, said the updated business plan by the rail authority made it clear it was wasteful to not build a nationwide high-speed rail system. "While it is regrettable that Republicans continue their attacks against high-speed rail funding, Leader Pelosi stands firm with President Obama in our steadfast commitment to achieving modern high-speed rail for California and the nation," he said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The California Rail Authority planned for federal funds to begin construction for the rail system that will have trains reaching 220 mph. On Nov. 15, they released a call for design firms to bid on initial construction in the Central Valley, from Madera to Fresno, that they expect will break ground in fall 2012.

About the Author

Ed Fuentes is an arts journalist, photographer, graphic designer, and digital muralist who covers a variety of topics and geographies in Southern California for KCET.
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