Feinstein will oppose all Transportation nominees over stalled California rail project

Feinstein will oppose all Transportation nominees over stalled California rail project
© Greg Nash

A California Democrat is withholding support for all of President Trump’s Transportation Department nominees because of a stalled rail project in the state.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFormer US attorneys urge support for Trump nominee The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Republicans see some daylight in midterm polling Senate panel clears bill to bolster probes of foreign investment deals MORE (D-Calif.) on Monday opposed a procedural vote on the nomination of Jeffrey Rosen, Trump’s pick to serve as deputy secretary for the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Feinstein said in a statement that she will continue to oppose all DOT nominees until the White House unblocks federal funding for the Caltrain commuter rail system that was supposed to be used to help electrify a portion of commuter rail that runs between San Francisco and San Jose.

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The administration announced in February that it was withholding $647 million worth of grant money for Caltrain until at least the fiscal 2018 budget, delivering a major setback for the transit agency’s electrification project.

“I intend to oppose confirmation for every Transportation Department nominee until the Trump administration releases funding for the Caltrain Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project,” Feinstein said.

“For months, I’ve tried to persuade the Trump administration to release federal funding for the Caltrain corridor. In the recent spending bill, Congress directed the administration to fully fund this project.”

The grant was supposed to pay for a large chunk of Caltrain’s $2 billion electrification project. The plan would also eventually benefit a high-speed rail project in the state, which has been a lightning rod among Republicans.

More than a dozen California Republicans urged Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to block the federal grants and argued that the money would be wasted.

But Caltrain has warned that delays in the electrification project could have a major impact on the economy and jobs in the region.

“Despite approval from Congress, the administration continues to withhold funding without any rational justification—wasting almost $1 million a week and jeopardizing 10,000 jobs nationwide,” Feinstein said. “It is long past time for the administration to release the Caltrain corridor funding.”