Draft of House bill pulls high-speed rail funding in 2014

Bee Washington BureauJune 19, 2013 

An artist's depiction of a high-speed rail train zooming past downtown Fresno.

FRESNO BEE ILLUSTRATION

WASHINGTON -- In a largely symbolic move, a draft transportation spending bill for the upcoming fiscal year declares that none of the funds made available by the act may be used for California high-speed rail.

The language conforms with the views of skeptics like Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, chair of the House railroad subcommittee and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, the House majority whip.

But the California High-Speed Rail Authority has already received some $3.5 billion in federal funds, and was not anticipating getting any more in Fiscal 2014.

The draft bill was forwarded this week from the transportation subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Denham said Wednesday his intent is to ensure that "Valley dollars stay in the Valley."

The high-speed rail language was included in a bill that, overall, provides $15.3 billion for an assortment of federal transportation.

The language is, in part, symbolic, as there had been no effort by the Obama administration to fit California high-speed rail funding into the annual appropriations bill. Denham, though, said he and other skeptics wanted to block any potential effort to shift money around later.

Similar language was included in the transportation funding bill last Congress, but because lawmakers failed to finish their work on the appropriations measures it had no explicit effect.

Overall, the House transportation funding bill marks a 15% reduction from last year, and an even larger reduction from what the Obama administration asked for.

"California high-speed rail will be an unbelievably wasteful cost burden for every American taxpayer," Valadao said. "The project is far from viable and will deliver little benefit to anyone in the state, especially my constituents in the Central Valley."

The reporter can be reached at (202) 383-0006, mdoyle@mcclatchydc.com or @michaeldoyle10 on Twitter.

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