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No Backsies? Trump administration announces intent to take back California’s high speed rail funding




In this handout image provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Construction of the Cedar Viaduct seen from the Golden State Boulevard to west of State Route 99 on July 13, 2017 in Fresno, California.
In this handout image provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Construction of the Cedar Viaduct seen from the Golden State Boulevard to west of State Route 99 on July 13, 2017 in Fresno, California.
Handout/Getty Images

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In a move Governor Newsom has characterized as retaliatory, President Trump has said he plans to reclaim the $2.5 billion dollars in federal grants California has invested in the high speed rail project.

Newsom announced in his State of the State that the bullet train would run a shorter route from Bakersfield to Merced. The Transportation Department says the grant should be returned for lack of progress on the project. Newsom asserts the request is simply punishment for California’s stance against the declaration of a national emergency to fund a border wall. Today, Trump doubled down on his demand to get the grant returned and slammed the project on Twitter.

Can the federal government take back money that has already been spent if it can prove that the state of California violated the terms of the funding agreement for the high speed rail projects? How might the feds look to punish California if they are unable to take back money that has already been spent? What legal recourse might California have if the U.S. Department of Transportation tried to claw the money back?

Guests:

Ralph Vartabedian, national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times who covers the high-speed rail project, who has been following the story; he tweets @RVartabedian

James Moore, professor of industrial, systems and civil engineering and director of the Transportation Engineering Program at USC

Ethan Elkind, director of the Climate Program at the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at UC Berkeley; he tweets @EthanElkind