Trump Administration Wants California to Pay Back $2.5 Billion for High-Speed Rail

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The Trump administration is vowing to terminate a $929 million federal grant to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, according to a letter sent Tuesday from the Transportation Department.

It is unclear whether the federal government has the legal authority to withhold the grant, and California officials are likely to challenge the move in court. The department is also “actively exploring every legal option” to take back $2.5 billion in federal grant funds already given to the state for the rail line that was meant to go to San Francisco from Los Angeles.

The battle over money is just the latest round between California and the Trump administration, which have fought over immigration, environmental and criminal justice issues.

On Monday, Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general, filed a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s emergency declaration on the border.

The high-speed rail was a signature project of former Gov. Jerry Brown. Last week, his successor, Gov. Gavin Newsom, announced that he planned to scale back the project, which state officials have said would cost $77 billion. Mr. Newsom said he would direct the rail authority to focus on a portion of the plan in the Central Valley, which he said would create much-needed jobs in the region.A day after Mr. Newsom’s announcement, Mr. Trump posted on Twitter that the state owed the federal government $3.5 billion, adding, “We want that money back now.”

A day after Mr. Newsom’s announcement, Mr. Trump posted on Twitter that the state owed the federal government $3.5 billion, adding, “We want that money back now.”

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