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Situational awareness: The national debt has passed a new milestone, topping $22 trillion for the first time. (AP)

1 big thing: $77 billion derailment

Photo: California High-Speed Rail Authority via Getty Images

The most ambitious infrastructure project in America looks dead, at least for now, after its estimated costs had swelled to $77 billion.

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for dramatically dialing back the formidable high-speed rail project.
  • In a speech today, he said "there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.”
  • The project will be confined to California’s Central Valley, running from Merced to Bakersfield, Newsom said.

The big picture: It is incredibly expensive to build infrastructure in the U.S., whether that's rail or highway or anything else.

Why it matters: High-speed rail infrastructure is important to climate change plans like the Green New Deal.

  • Axios Ben Geman emails: It’s part of decarbonizing transport along with other mass transit options — such as electric buses, other kinds of trains, better pedestrian options and bikes — and EVs.
  • The Green New Deal resolution, according to the FAQ that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's office released and then retracted, called for building out so much high-speed rail that air travel becomes unnecessary.

Between the lines: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Green New Deal resolution will get a vote (he thinks it will hurt Senate Democrats.)

  • Axios' Amy Harder emails: California just passed an incredibly aggressive clean energy law, so it’s not all bad from climate advocates’ perspective. 

The bottom line: If the richest and most progressive state in the U.S. can't follow through on an ambitious rail plan (similar to how Washington state couldn't pass a carbon tax), it signals nothing but trouble for people concerned about climate change.

P.S. "China plans 6,800 km of new rail track in 2019 amid infrastructure push." (Reuters)

Bonus: Relevant chart du jour
Expand chart
Reproduced from IEA, "The Future of Rail"; Chart: Axios Visuals

Go deeper: High-speed rail and the Green New Deal

Pics du jour
Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Above: The casket of former Rep. John Dingell rests at the Church of the Divine Child during his funeral today in Dearborn, Michigan.

Below: Rep. Debbie Dingell, his widow, arrives with former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden.

Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
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3. 1 film thing

"From 'A Quiet Place' to 'A Star is Born,' studios backed more films with female leads in 2018, according to new research," Variety reports.

  • "Out of the top 100-grossing movies, 40 films had women in central roles as either the main character or the co-lead ... an increase of eight films from the previous year and 20 movies from 2007. It is the highest percentage of female-driven films in 12 years."