FILE PHOTO – California Governor Jerry Brown’s name and others are pictured on a railroad rail after a ceremony for the California High Speed Rail in Fresno, California January 6, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – California on Tuesday sued the Trump administration in U.S. District Court after the U.S. Transportation Department confirmed it would withhold $929 million in high-speed rail funding awarded to the state in 2010.
California later on Tuesday plans to seek a temporary restraining order request asking a judge to prevent the U.S. Transportation Department from repurposing the money, the governor’s office said.
The state will argue that the withholding is aimed at punishing California for opposing President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the southern U.S. border. The suit also names Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)and FRA chief Ron Batory.
The Trump administration moved to end funding after California Governor Gavin Newsom said in February the state would scale back the planned $77.3 billion high-speed rail project after cost hikes, delays and management concerns, but would finish a smaller section.
Trump has repeatedly criticized the project. In a speech last week, Trump recounted that he had said “Elaine, it’s over for them” to Chao about the California project.
The move marked the latest in an ongoing battle between the Trump administration and California over a series of issues including immigration, vehicle emissions standards and internet policy.
The most populous U.S. state has repeatedly sued the Trump administration and officials had expected the state would sue over the rail funding.
The U.S. Transportation Department declined to comment on the suit.
The FRA, the U.S. railway regulator said last week it had canceled the funding agreement after it said the state failed to make “reasonable” progress on the project.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by James Dalgleish and Meredith Mazzilli