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Gavin Newsom says the Trump administration is engaging in "political retribution" by trying to take back $3.5 billion granted for the state's high-speed rail project.

California joined 15 other states to file suit against the Trump administration on Monday for declaring a national emergency to secure funding for his proposed wall along the U.S. -Mexico border without going through Congress.

"This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won't sit idly by", he said in a statement.

This came after Trump declared a national emergency on the United States border after Congress refused to fund a proposed wall on the Mexican border and ordered money diverted from other projects to fund the barrier.

In 2008, voters approved $10 billion in initial bonds for planning and construction of high-speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

The announcement-made in a February 19 letter from the U.S. Department of Transportation to the California High-Speed Rail Authority-came after President Donald Trump pledged to reclaim a total of $3.5 billion in funding grants.

In response, a California state Senate staffer involved in the project told the Los Angeles Times that delays and changes to infrastructure projects are common.

In a letter Tuesday, the Transportation Department notified the California High-Speed Rail Authority that it intends to terminate its agreement and end the approximately $929 million California received for the project under the Obama administration. His office said he still plans to complete the full line, although he said the current plan would cost too much and take too long.

Money, of course, remains the overarching issue with the project, with the price tag for a statewide train system closing in on $100 billion.

"We can align our economic and workforce development strategies, anchored by High Speed Rail, and pair them with tools like opportunity zones, to form the backbone of a reinvigorated Central Valley economy", said the governor.

"I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump", Newsom said.

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The Federal Railroad Administration announced on February 19 that it meant to cancel $929m of federal grant destined for the high speed rail project in California.

"By focusing on a single working leg, Newsom can show people the potential - building enthusiasm that could foster other projects around the country".

Trump tweeted again Wednesday that California should "send the federal government back the billions of dollars WASTED" on its "failed" train project.

The department wrote Newsom's comments mark a "significant retreat from the State's initial vision and commitment and frustrated the goal for which the Federal funding was awarded".

"Right now there simply isn't a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A.", he said.

The Transportation Department also said it was "actively exploring every legal option" to get back an additional $2.5 billion grant that is being used to finance the construction of 119 miles of rail line in the Central Valley.

The project, which was supported by Newsom's predecessor Gov.

"We want that money back now" he tweeted.

It's the latest spat between Trump and California, which has styled itself as the Democratic-led "resistance" to the administration.

He said he agrees with the governor and Guardino that California should not have to pay back the $2.5 billion; that the money took a one-way ticket to California and not a round trip back to Washington D.C.