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The Obama administration on Tuesday accelerated its plans for high-speed rail, as Vice President Joe Biden announced a six-year, $53 billion plan.

The ambitious proposal is meeting with applause from California's high-speed rail proponents, some of whom were in the audience for the announcement, but it is also facing skepticism from congressional Republicans.

Meeting with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, Biden said the administration's upcoming budget will propose a further down-payment of $8 billion for high-speed rail. Biden and LaHood contended the funding, and the longer-term plans, will provide the kind of federal commitment state and local agencies require for their own planning.

"In America, we pride ourselves on dreaming big and building big," LaHood said.

The proposal presented Tuesday did not identify state-by-state funding. California could expect a share, though; Roelof van Ark, the chief executive officer of California's High Speed Rail Authority, was, not coincidentally, in the Philadelphia audience.

But on Capitol Hill, where the funding rubber meets the road, key GOP leaders are saying slow down.

"This is like giving Bernie Madoff another chance at handling your investment portfolio," said Rep. John Mica of Florida, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.


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