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Jerry Brown's Waterloo Station? California high-speed rail takes a new hit.

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But for a Democratic governor who is depending on voters to pass a tax hike this year that he says is crucial to balancing the state budget long-term, his insistence on high-speed rail could have consequences.

Jerry Brown's continued pursuit of the ‘bullet train’ carries some notable political costs,” says Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. “It provides a big target for his GOP rivals, who will use the initiative to characterize Brown as a big tax-and-spend politician.”

The significance of the congressional probe is that it threatens to disrupt federal funding. High-speed rail officials intend to pay for half the project's costs with federal funds, but they are running into roadblocks. Republicans in Congress largely oppose President Obama’s plans to make high-speed rail available to 80 percent of Americans by 2037. The California project is a key part of Mr. Obama’s vision.

But the California plan has been taking flak in recent months:

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