We’re so old we can remember all the talk about Calexit, sanctuary cities and an overall defiant attitude toward President Trump. Now these schmucks are asking him for $647 million for a train nobody wants.
When Trump recovers from the laughter he should tell Brown he’s using that money to enforce immigration laws.
Gov. Jerry Brown has asked the Trump administration to reverse itself on a key decision to withhold a $647-million grant for a state passenger rail project, a request that comes two weeks after other California Democrats waded into the fray.
In a letter this week to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Brown asserted that on its merits the grant is “an open and shut case.”
The Transportation Department notified the state on Feb. 18 that it was deferring the grant, which is intended to pay for a 50-mile electrical power system that both the Caltrain commuter rail system and the future high-speed rail system would use from San Jose to San Francisco.
The grant, which normally might move through the federal channels with little notice, became politically charged through its association with the controversial bullet train project.
All 14 of California’s Republican members of the House asked Chao to hold up the grant until an audit could be conducted of the state’s troubled high-speed rail project’s finances.
While electrification would allow Caltrain to replace its diesel locomotives with electric trains, it is also a crucial step for the future of the bullet train. The state’s rail authority offered to give $713 million toward the project, money that would be taken out of bond funds earmarked for the bullet train.
The request by the Republican House members and the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the White House has created a political dynamic that almost nobody had contemplated, certainly not the state’s Democrats.
Until Trump’s election in November, the state’s Republican delegation lacked any real power to influence federal funding of the bullet train, which they strongly oppose.
But now the state’s 14 Republican members are exerting considerable power, given that they constitute the third-largest Republican delegation in the House after Texas and Florida. And Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) has established a close relationship with Trump. McCarthy has called the project a boondoggle.
“Obviously, what has happened is a huge curve ball,” said Jim Earp, a longtime supporter of the high-speed rail project and a member of the California Transportation Commission. “I hope calmer head prevail and the funding goes through.”
Maybe you could stomp your feet and call Trump Hitler some more. That ought to do it.
It hasn’t helped the state’s case that there is not a single Republican in the Bay Area whose district might benefit from the grant.
Chao’s decision in mid-February was sharply criticized by many of California’s Democrats, including Sen. Diane Feinstein and Sen. Kamala Harris. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said the Transportation Department was holding the project hostage in an effort to attack the bullet train. The Caltrain goes through her district.
Holding it hostage, huh? OK, you want $647 million for a choo-choo train? Then start handing over the illegal criminals or just STFU.