by Josephine Djuhana | June 11, 2015 12:08 pm
On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 2577, which blocks federal funding for the California high-speed rail and the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
H.R. 2577 is the House appropriations bill determining financial support for all federally-funded transportation, housing and urban development projects. This includes the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, as well as other transportation and housing authorities across the U.S.
House Amendment 434, introduced by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., prohibits “the use of funds for high-speed rail in the State of California or for the California High-Speed Rail Authority” and also disallows any funds to be “used by the Federal Railroad Administration to administer a grant agreement with the California High-Speed Rail Authority that contains a tapered matching requirement.” The amendment was agreed to by voice vote during the H.R. 2577 floor consideration.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., released a prepared statement on Wednesday, praising the passage of the bill:
“This bill prioritizes projects to ensure tax dollars from hardworking Americans aren’t wasted on projects that don’t reflect today’s reality and tomorrow’s potential.
“In my home state of California where driving is essential to our daily lives, we know that some dollars spent on transportation are more effective than others. For example, it’s better to fix the roads and ensure rail safety than it is to waste millions on a high-speed rail boondoggle. That is why the House has routinely blocked federal taxpayer dollars from being wasted on California’s high-speed rail, helping to make sure we spend every taxpayer dollar in the most productive way possible.”
This decision comes on the heels of a 300-person protest at a meeting of the California High-Speed Rail Authority on Tuesday. According to the L.A. Times:
“During more than six hours of public comment by about 150 people, one speaker after another attacked the project as the eight-member California High-Speed Rail Authority board listened quietly. The testimony came from residents and leaders in small towns and growing suburbs along proposed routes through the mountains north of the Los Angeles basin. Many speakers said the project would devastate their quality of life or their local economy.”
Supporters of the high-speed rail included Palmdale Mayor James Ledford, who has called it a “game changer” for families facing a long commute home from their jobs in downtown L.A.
“We’re excited about being connected to where jobs are in Southern California,” said Ledford. “If not high-speed rail, then what?” Anaheim officials also stated their supportive comments during the meeting.
But opponents to the project point out the fact that voters are not getting what they were promised back in 2008. The San Diego Union-Tribune highlighted these concerns regarding the high-speed rail project in an editorial:
[I]f Richard and the CHSRA are sincere about addressing local concerns, it’s time they also sincerely address big-picture concerns, which hinge on legally binding promises made to state voters in 2008 to win passage of Proposition 1A. The measure provided $9.95 billion in bond seed money for the project.
One of those promises was that construction would not begin until all the money was in hand to build a route that could be self-sustaining if full project funding wasn’t available. The rail authority has never identified how it will pay for the $31 billion, 300-mile initial operating segment from Merced to the San Fernando Valley. Attorney General Kamala Harris declined to appeal the section of a broader Sacramento Superior Court ruling that concluded the state didn’t have a legal business plan.
Source URL: https://calwatchdog.com/2015/06/11/house-obstructs-funding-for-ca-high-speed-rail-rail-authority/
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