Living up to its reputation as the place where good ideas go to die, a US Senate transportation panel proposed only $1.2 billion for HSR in the coming year:
The Senate's transportation bill, shepherded by senior appropriator Patty Murray (D-WA), provides $1.2 billion for the Obama administration's high-speed rail initiative -- $200 million more than the White House's budget request, but significantly less than the $4 billion that the House set aside for that purpose.
Highways, by contrast, got $41.1 billion from the House but $1.4 billion extra from the Senate, for a total of $43.5 billion in spending. Transit would get $480 million more than the White House requested, along with a $150 million infusion for the cash-strapped D.C. Metro system.
Recall that the US House approved $4 billion last week for HSR. So obviously there's going to be a conference committee fight over this, assuming the $1.2 billion for HSR makes it to the full Senate floor (and I expect it will).
This fight isn't going to happen anytime soon - the final bill likely won't be voted on until the fall, and the conference committee report may not come until September or October. The fight over health care reform may well push that timeline back somewhat.
No word yet from either Senators Dianne Feinstein or Barbara Boxer about their position on this. Would be nice to see California's senators help bring home some money for our HSR project. After all, isn't that one of the reasons we keep sending them to DC?