Yesterday the full U.S. House of Representatives passed U.S. Representative Jeff Denham’s (R-Turlock) amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill, H.R. 4745, which will prevent any spending on high speed rail in the state of California.
Denham described the amendment, the Responsible Rail and Deterring Deficiency Act (H.R. 3893) as “very simple” reading it in front of the House today, stating, “None of the funds made available by this act may be used for high speed rail in the state of California, or for the California High Speed Rail Authority.”
Some may have been surprised by Denham’s next comment; he is a big supporter of high speed rail. As Chair of the Subcommittee on Rail, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, Denham agrees that he has seen some of the greatest high speed rail in other countries, and in the United States.
Just not in California: At least not yet.
“We’re gonna see the first high speed rail in Texas and then in Florida; two projects that are moving forward with private dollars,” said Denham. “But in California in 2008, we passed Proposition 1A which was a promise to the voters that a $33 billion project would not only be built, but be built on time, with equal parts of funding from the state voters, from the federal government– hopefully– and then the private investors.”
In Denham’s eyes, and evidently in the eyes of the House today, this is not happening. California’s battle to approve funding for high speed rail has been dragged out over the past five years, with little headway made and an increasing deficit where jobs were promised. Denham introduced H.R. 3893, his bill to stop funding, back in January, following Sacramento County Superior Court judge Michael Kenny’s decline to approve the sale of more than $8 billion in bonds from Proposition 1A in November 2013.
Kenny decided to decline approval because he felt the agreement for the high-speed rail project had been breached. Under the agreement for the high-speed rail project between the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority, federal spending must be matched by state bonds.
“Without a viable funding plan like the one voters supported, California’s high speed rail project is going nowhere fast,” said Denham. “I’m pleased to have the support of so many of my House colleagues who recognize that we shouldn’t be spending any more taxpayer money on a project without a future.”
But White House Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 4745, stating it fails to make needed investments in the nation’s infrastructure, provides insufficient support for critical housing programs for low-income Americans and the homeless, and includes objectionable language provisions.