U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Saturday that China outpaces the United States in building major transportation infrastructure like high-speed rail because of its authoritarian system and because the Chinese don’t have the Republican Party holding up progress.
LaHood blamed Republicans in Congress for the relative lack of progress in moving forward with high-speed rail even though the administration has obligated more than $11 billion to the effort.
“We used to be No. 1. We’re not No. 1 anymore. We’re No. 23,” he said.
The California state Assembly on Thursday approved an $8 billion high-speed rail financing plan that likely will face a tougher vote in the Senate over the system’s projected $68 billion cost and concerns about its management.
The bill paves the way for California to begin selling $2.6 billion in voter-approved bonds and allocates another $1.9 billion for regional rail improvements in Northern and Southern California, and allows the state to tap $3.2 billion in federal grants to start construction of the first segment in the Central Valley.
“It’s time to stop talking, and start doing,” said Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Los Angeles, the budget committee chairman.
“We can’t put our heads in the sand and say we can’t solve it.”
But with no Republican senator expected to support the measure, it will require the votes of 21 of 25 Senate Democrats.
“This is a very tight and tough vote,” said Steinberg, a Democrat. “But I’ve had tight and tough votes before.”
Critics were preparing for Friday’s vote, too. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association urged members to call three Democratic lawmakers it believed could be persuaded: Michael Rubio,Fran Pavley and Gloria Negrete McLeod.
Stanford University watchdog group California Common Sense is out with a new report, saying high-speed rail will actually cost $200 billion and that may certainly sway some votes.
The Senate is expected to vote on Friday.