Lawmakers react to President Trump's announcement to end FEMA money for California
California lawmakers are reacting to President Trump's tweet he sent out Wednesday morning where he announced he has ordered FEMA to stop sending money to California.
President Trump's tweet said, "Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no money. It is disgraceful situation in lives & money!"
Congressman Doug LaMalfa issued the following statement saying while he shares the President's frustration, threats to FEMA funding are not helpful and will not solve the longer term forest management regulatory problems.
“Although I share the President’s great frustration with California’s choking regulations from the stranglehold environmental groups have on the state, as well as the inaction on federal lands up until this Administration, the immediate problem for fire victims is the first need, and threats to FEMA funding are not helpful and will not solve the longer term forest management regulatory problems.
These are American citizens who require our help. I will continue to work in Congress, and with the Administration to ensure we have the funds needed to recover from these disasters.
The President has seen first-hand our fire-ravaged areas in Northern California. He made the promise to help, and I expect him to keep it. I appreciate the speed and great amount of disaster relief funds that have been committed following his visit to Paradise. We have policies that must change federally, and I have helped write and push for the needed policy changes that passed the House but were held up in the Senate last year.
I ask the President to continue supporting our great need for disaster assistance in NorCal, and I will remain an enthusiastic partner for long term solutions for forest management in California and across our tinderbox western states. Many of these people have lost everything, and they desperately need our help right now.”
The Governor also tweeted Wednesday morning saying, "Mr. President--Just yesterday, Governor Kate Brown, Governor Jay Inslee, and I sent a letter asking the federal government to work with us in taking on these unprecedented wildfires. We have been put in office by the voters to get things done, not to play games with lives."
Governor Newsom added, "Disasters and recovery are not time for politics. I'm already taking action to modernize and manage our forests and emergency responses. The people of CA--folks in Paradise--should not be victims to partisan bickering."
Before President Trump announced he's stopping FEMA assistance, FEMA said Tuesday that they have extended the deadline for California wildfire survivors to register for federal assistance to Thursday, January 31.
Disaster grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are available to eligible homeowners and renters who were impacted by the mid November wildfires in Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Nearly 26,000 applications from survivors of the Camp, Hill and Woolsey Fires have been received by FEMA to date.
Disaster assistance for individuals may include grants to help homeowners and renters with temporary housing, essential home repairs, personal property replacement, and serious disaster-related needs.
The deadline for filing applications for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration has also been extended to January 31.
Congressman John Garamendi also responded to President Trump's tweet, stating it was shameful.
"While communities like Paradise are still struggling with multi-billion dollar recovery efforts the President withholds funding for petty political gains. Where is his empathy?" said Garamendi.
And in a response from Senator Kamala Harris, she said, "Californians endured the deadliest wildfire in our state's history last year. We should work together to mitigate these fires by combating climate change, not play politics by threatening to withhold money from survivors of a deadly natural disaster".
California Professional Firefighters President Brian Rice also issued a statement Wednesday morning saying President Trump's threat to cut off FEMA assistance is a deplorable attempt to play politics with the lives of tens of thousands of wildfire victims.
“President Trump’s threat to cut off FEMA assistance to California, President Trump is a deplorable attempt to play politics with the lives of tens of thousands of wildfire victims. The people of Paradise have only begun to be able to rebuild their lives in these last few weeks. Now, they find themselves being used as pawns in the president’s ill-informed chest-pounding at their expense.
The president’s attempt to pin sole blame for California’s wildfire problems on the state’s forest management is flat wrong. While forest health can be a contributing factor in large fires, more than 60 percent of these forests are controlled by the federal government, not California. And yet, the federal government has cut $2 billion from the US Forest Service even as California has spent more on forest management.
More to the point, many catastrophic fires in California occur in the wildland-urban interface, fueled by unprecedented weather conditions, drought and development patterns. It is in these communities where the greatest loss of life and property is happening. To hold these victims hostage over a political fight is wrong.
On his first full day in office, California Governor Gavin Newsom established fire prevention and forest management as a statewide priority, with a proposal aimed at combating wildfire, protecting communities and safeguarding forests. This strong focus on what’s important to firefighters and the safety of our citizens stands in stark contrast to the president’s ill-informed tirade.
With the federal government mired in a self-imposed shutdown, the president has little standing to lecture anyone else about dysfunction. Instead of threatening innocent fire victims, the federal government should try working with California – and all Western states – to responsibly address the wildfire threat we face."
Senator Jim Nielsen and Assemblyman James Gallagher issued this joint statement Wednesday morning:
“The Camp Fire devastated the Town of Paradise and surrounding communities. Eighty-six people have died, and tens of thousands of lives have been shattered.
This is one of the worst disasters in our nation’s history. We thank the President for being attentive and personally visiting the community to tour the devastation.
This Twitter war, however, is not helpful. It will not solve the problem. We can all agree that people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.
There is no higher priority. That is why the President's threat to withhold FEMA funds from California is wholly unacceptable. He made a commitment to the people who have lost everything in these fires, and we expect the federal government to follow through with this promise.
So let us work together. California is now investing $1 billion in forestry management, and we need cooperation and funding from the federal government to address the huge buildup of fuels on federal land.”