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President Obama said during the campaign he would support high-speed rail, and money for it has been included in the economic stimulus bill that is now law and in the initial outline of Obama's first federal budget.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — a $789 billion economic stimulus package — includes at least $8 billion "to advance the goal of deploying intercity high-speed rail systems in the United States," as the conference report on the bill states. Part of that money could go to regular rail as well.
In fact, the money became an object of debate when Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said that the money could go to build a magnetic levitation line between Las Vegas and Disneyland. We rated his statement Half True .
Obama's first budget outline also includes money for high-speed rail:
"To provide Americans a 21st century transportation system, the administration proposes a $1 billion-a-year high-speed rail state grant program, in addition to the $8 billion provided in the recovery act. This proposal marks a new federal commitment to give the traveling public a practical and environmentally sustainable alternative to flying or driving."
The budget still has to make its way through Congress, and could be changed. But the money in the stimulus bill has been approved and will be distributed by federal agencies.
This is a relatively easy promise for Obama to keep because his pledge was not very specific. He said he would support the projects; he didn't say they would actually come to fruition. In both the stimulus and his budget, he has supported high-speed rail. Promise Kept.
Office of Budget and Management,
Budget Documents for Fiscal Year 2010
, Feb. 26, 2009
Thomas, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Speaker of the House Web site, Joint Explanatory Statement: Section A , Feb. 12, 2009 (pdf document)