A day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom severely scaled back plans for a high-speed train, President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he wanted the project’s federal funds returned — to which Newsom responded: No way.
On Tuesday, Newsom announced during his first state of the state address that soaring costs will force the state to focus on building only a 120-mile stretch of high-speed rail in the state’s Central Valley, from Merced to Bakersfield, abandoning plans to connect the state’s population hubs of San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Newsom kept open the possibility of eventually extending the line to the state’s largest urban areas in the future.
Trump on Wednesday night tweeted, wrongly, that California had canceled the project, and said the state had “wasted many billions of dollars” in federal funding. “We want that money back now,” he said.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2019
Newsom quickly responded with a tweet of his own, using one of Trump’s favorite terms: “Fake news,” he said. “We’re building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond. This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back.”
Fake news. We’re building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond.
This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back.
The train is leaving the station — better get on board!
(Also, desperately searching for some wall $$??) https://t.co/9hxEfEX8Vm
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) February 14, 2019
The friction between the two is no surprise. Newsom has vowed that California — itself the world’s fifth-largest economy — will be a leader of the so-called “resistance,” calling Trump’s policies “fundamentally at odds with California values.”
Trump has also threatened to cut off federal funding to help California cope with wildfires, wrongly blaming poor forest management by the state for devastating wildfires in recent years.