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Freshman Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Atwater, caught some of his fellow California lawmakers by surprise this week when he authored an amendment to block federal funding this year for California's high-speed rail program.

Late Wednesday, he withdrew his amendment in exchange for what he says is an agreement to secure more federal oversight.

The amendment was one of nearly 600 House members authored, but didn't always introduce for a vote. Denham said that Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Penn., agreed to maintain oversight of the state's use of federal dollars in the high-speed rail program. Shuster chairs the House Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials subcommittee. Shuster further agreed to hold a hearing in California if necessary, Denham said.

On Thursday, Denham joined Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, in introducing legislation that would allow California to turn over its federal high-speed rail dollars to improvements along State Route 99.

In practice, there could well be some legal impediments to taking federal funds provided for one purpose and turning them to another; as a symbolic gesture, though, the bill makes a statement over what Denham termed the "ever-escalating costs" of California's high-speed rail project..


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