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Rep. Steel Questions Secretary Buttigieg On California’s Failed High-Speed Rail Project

March 25, 2021

Project is overdue and over budget, expected to cost more than $100 billion

Washington, D.C. – Today Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48) questioned Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about California’s failed high-speed rail project. Secretary Buttigieg testified in front of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on the Biden Administration’s priorities for the upcoming fiscal year, and Rep. Steel used her time to ask about the billions in wasted taxpayer money and who will continue to foot the bill for this money pit project.

“After more than a decade of failure, and billions of taxpayer dollars thrown down this high-speed money pit, how would you assure America’s hardworking taxpayers who have been struggling, especially during the pandemic, that continued funding wouldn’t be wasted?,” Rep Steel said.

“We have not had the type of resources or commitment that other countries have,” Secretary Buttigieg answered. The California high-speed rail project started in 2009, with the goal of building a high-speed rail train from Los Angeles to San Francisco that would be fully operable by 2020. After more than a decade, the project’s price tag has ballooned from about $33 billion to more than $100 billion with no segments in operation and no realistic timeline for when the rail line will be completed. Despite these failures and no evidence supporting that completion of this project is attainable, California is pinning their hopes on a bailout from the federal government to secure additional funding for this project.

Earlier this month, Rep. Steel introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of federal assistance for the high-speed rail project in California, which is now expected to cost more than $100 billion.   

The project received over $2 billion in funding from the Obama Administration that requires the first segment to be operable by 2022. In 2019, the Trump administration cancelled $929 million in federal funding for the project. The state faces the real threat of having to return the money provided under the Obama administration if they cannot get a usable portion up and running.

Reps. Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Devin Nunes (CA-22), Rep. Mike Garcia (CA-25), Darrell Issa (CA-50), Young Kim (CA-39), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Jay Obernolte (CA-08), Kevin Brady (TX-08), Rick Crawford (AR-01) and Scott Perry (PA-10) have signed on as original cosponsors of the bill. You can view the full text of the bill here.