WASHINGTON — Despite the efforts by Republican lawmakers to scrap President Barack Obama's funding for high-speed rail projects, 24 states have submitted applications for additional money, the Department of Transportation said Wednesday.
The states had until Monday to request all or part of the $2.4 billion Florida returned when Republican Gov. Rick Scott canceled a high-speed rail project in February.
Among the new applicants is Wisconsin, whose Republican Gov. Scott Walker earlier rejected $810 million for a project in his state, money that eventually went to Florida.
The Obama administration has committed $10.5 billion to high-speed rail projects across the country, and it wants to spend $53 billion on such projects in the next several years. But the plans have met resistance in the Republican-led House of Representatives. The House voted in February to eliminate the president's high-speed rail funding as part of a bill to cut $60 billion in federal spending in the current fiscal year.
But noting that governors and members of Congress from both parties "have been clamoring for the opportunity to participate" since the Florida money became available, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, "We are extremely pleased to see the bipartisan enthusiasm behind all the requests to get into the high-speed rail business."
The other states that have applied for funds are California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Washington. In addition to the states and the District of Columbia, Amtrak is asking for $1.3 billion to modernize the Northeast Corridor.