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Newsom Promises Court Fight Over Trump Withdrawal Of $1B In High-Speed Rail Funds

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF/AP) — Gov. Gavin Newsom has sharply criticized the Trump Administration's withdrawal of nearly $1 billion in federal money for California's high-speed rail project.

Newsom called the move the latest act of retribution by the president directed at California.

"The Trump Administration's action is illegal and direct assault on California, our green infrastructure, and the thousands of Central Valley workers who are building this project," Newsom said in a statement posted on Twitter,

"Just as we have seen from the Trump Administration's attacks on our clean air standards, our immigrant communities and in countless other areas, the Trump Administration is trying to exact political retribution on our state," he continued.

Newsom said California would go to court to protect the funding -- a legal strategy that was met with approval by Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

"I agree with Governor Newsom that California should take this decision to court and I thank him for responding so quickly," Feinstein said. "These are funds that Congress appropriated and the president obligated. They cannot legally be withdrawn without good cause. The Trump administration has no basis for claiming that California has failed to satisfy its end of the grant agreement."

The Federal Railroad Administration's announcement it would not give California the money came several months after sniping between President Donald Trump and Newsom over the project. The administration will still try to force California to return another $2.5 billion that has already been spent.

Trump had seized on Newsom's remarks in February that the project as planned would cost too much and take too long. Newsom has shifted the project's immediate focus to a 171-mile line in the state's Central Valley, but he said he's still committed to building the full line.

Still, federal officials said California has repeatedly failed to make "reasonable progress" and "abandoned its original vision."

Newsom declared the action "illegal and a direct assault on California" and said the state would go to court to keep the money.

"This is California's money, appropriated by Congress, and we will vigorously defend it in court," he said in an emailed statement.

Voters first approved about $10 billion in bond funds for the project in 2008. It has faced repeated cost overruns and delays since. It's now projected to cost more than $77 billion and be finished by 2033.

The $929 million the state is losing is critical to the chronically under-funded project.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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