High Speed Rail

Kamala Harris Helped Secure Federal Funding for California's Disastrous High Speed Rail Project

The California senator's terrible record on policy extends to infrastructure.


Faye Sadou/SIPA/Newscom

On Monday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) announced her intention to run for president in 2020. The announcement spurred celebration from supporters of the former prosecutor, as well as a fair bit of criticism from those who remember her record of protecting dirty prosecutors and cracking down on sex work. Harriss's successful effort to secure federal funding for California's disastrous highspeed rail project has received less attention. Let's fix that.

Prior to being elected to the Senate in 2016, Harris had expressed only qualified support for California's highspeed rail project, saying that, while she was in favor of it "as part of a broader strategy to invest in our future," she still wanted it closely monitored for "cost overruns and delays."

But since taking office, she has changed her tune, saying "infrastructure spending isn't a transportation issue for most Americans—it's a human rights issue."

That framing earned her a lot of derision on social media, but in the Senate—arguably a more important forum—her views earned her a spot on the Environment and Public Works Committee, a position Harris has since used to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for highspeed rail through the Caltrain Electrification Project.

The Caltrain Electrification Project is a long-running $1.9 billion attempt to upgrade commuter rail infrastructure in the Silicon Valley. Though technically a separate project from the California highspeed rail, the upgrades that it would install would also allow highspeed rail trains to make use of those same commuter tracks.

In the waning days of the Obama administration, the Federal Transit Administration gave tentative approval to $647 million in federal grants for Caltrain Electrification, but the election of Donald Trump—who brought with him a decidedly less rail-friendly agenda—cast uncertainty on the project's funding.

California's Republican congressional delegation sought to capitalize on Trump's skepticism by sending a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, in which they drew an explicit link between Caltrain electrification and highspeed rail, asking her to deny final approval for federal funding.

According to Baruch Feigenbaum, a transportation analyst with the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit which publishes this website, that should have been the end of it.

"Typically when one party or the other of representatives from the state is totally opposed to something, that something doesn't get funded," he says.

Given her commitment to every human being's right to receive millions in transportation grants, however, Harris could not let the issue die.

In her own letter to Chao, signed by the rest of California's Democratic congressional delegation, Harris pleaded with the Secretary to approve a final grant agreement for Caltrain Electrification.

Then, when Chao appeared before the Environment and Public Works Committee, Harris—in what was by all accounts a testy exchange—pressed Chao on the highspeed rail funding she so desired.

"I would urge your department, under your leadership, to help us resolve this…Because again, we are talking about thousands of jobs and infrastructure concerns that California has around transportation," said the clearly aggravated senator.

When Chao proved noncommittal during questioning, Harris went on the offensive, issuing tweets and press releases demanding that the Trump administration sign a grant agreement for this most crucial project.

In the end, her advocacy proved decisive. The Trump administration signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement for Caltrain Electrification one week later.

"It looks to me to be mostly a political decision," Feigenbaum said of the grant agreement. "I think it was a decision that it was just not worth the political risk for the Trump administration."

Harris herself was quick to claim credit, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that she thought her exchange with Chao helped persuade her to approve the grant.

As the Democratic primary race heats up, scrutiny of Harris' record on issues like criminal justice and free speech will no doubt increase. But it should never be forgotten that that the senator played a pivotal role in securing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for what is arguably the most wasteful and poorly conceived transportation project of the last decade.

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  1. “infrastructure spending isn’t a transportation issue for most Americans?it’s a human rights issue.”

    Yes. Americans have the basic human right of being able to take a choo-choo from Fresno to Merced.

    1. You would keep them trapped in Fresno? You monster!

      1. Admission is free; you pay to get out.

  2. This will resonate with not one voter. The terrible criminal justice policies might get some negative traction in this environment, but not wasteful spending.

    1. Yup. Like it or not, representatives are expected to bring home the bacon to their state

  3. MAGA!

  4. Too bad she’s not a natural born citizen because her parents weren’t citizens when she was born.

  5. “Infrastructure spending isn’t a transportation issue for most Americans?it’s a human rights issue.”

    This is what qualifies as a coherent thought among the statist elites. We have to throw another hundred billion on the pyre because muh feelz. How’s about a human right not to be fleeced?

  6. Conclusion: Kamala Harris was responsible for the second season of True Detective.

    Lock her up!

    1. She’s the parasite who approved the damned overages!

  7. She was an effective representative? Don’t throw her in that briar patch.

  8. “infrastructure spending isn’t a transportation issue for most Americans?it’s a human rights issue.”

    Well she’s right, but probably not in the sense that she means it. Public ownership of infrastructure, like public ownership of any property, is only tolerated so long as the state uses that property to preserve and protect liberty. When the state tries to use that property to deprive people of liberty, then that is when it becomes an exercise in injustice. Infrastructure which enables individuals to move around on their own schedule, without depending on employees of the state to be their chaperones, is the best kind from a libertarian perspective. That is why things like bullet trains are bad ideas, and especially when they come at the expense of other infrastructure projects which would more directly facilitate individuals’ freedom of movement.

  9. A socialist wants to spend tax dollars like it was water.
    I am shocked, shocked.

  10. She also sabotaged pension reform by using her AG position to write an extremely biased ballot summary.


  11. “Kamala Harris Helped Secure Federal Funding for California’s Disastrous High Speed Rail Project”

    Lefties and watermelons won’t find anything wrong with this.

  12. Look in to her citizenship status, Yes, she was born here, but I seem to recall NEITHER of her parents were citizens at that time. If that’s the case, she’s NOT ELIGIBLE.

    1. Not that I think that Harris is qualified as a human being to be president, but I believe the qualification is that you are born on American soil or to parents who are American who are serving overseas such as military or in the diplomatic corp.

  13. I live in California and this only makes me like Harris more. High speed rail is one of my top 5 issues and I will absolutely vote based on that alone. Most of my friends in California feel the same.

    1. As Hillary found out in 2016 appealing heavily to CA voters only gets you 55 electoral votes, no matter how big your margin within the state is. I’m sure high speed rail plays well in California, but the rest of the country not only doesn’t care, they will see it as a reason to vote against her

    2. Yeah, high-speed rail is on everybody’s mind…….you mindless twit. You fucking leftists……keep your fucking hands out of our wallets!

  14. Start working at home with Google. It’s the most-financially rewarding I’ve ever done. On tuesday I got a gorgeous BMW after having earned $8699 this last month. I actually started five months/ago and practically straight away was bringin in at least $96, per-hour. visit this site right here……………… http://www.mesalary.com

  15. Start working at home with Google. It’s the most-financially rewarding I’ve ever done. On tuesday I got a gorgeous BMW after having earned $8699 this last month. I actually started five months/ago and practically straight away was bringin in at least $96, per-hour. visit this site right here….. http://www.payshd.com

  16. Kamala Harris is a traitor to all Americans. Thanks to whistle blowers we know she has committed financial crimes against humanity and it is time the truth matters for all of us! ABOLISH THE BANKERS AND ABOLISH THE CRIMINAL RICO ENTERPRISE IN PUBLIC SERVICE!!! END CORPORATE TREASON! http://www.abolishthebankers.com

  17. She is one substantial empty suit who is in love with unions or any organization that will fund her phony programs that will only enrich her, as taught by Willie Brown her ex-boyfriend.

    1. Hang her….she’s evil.

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