Trump Threatens to Halt Disaster Aid to California Fire Victims
Trump Threatens to Halt Disaster Aid to California Fire Victims
An American flag stands among burned rubble during the Camp Fire in Paradise California on Nov. 13. Bloomberg
10 January, 2019, 00:26
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he is cutting emergency federal aid sent to help California after devastating wildfires unless the Democratic-led state gets its "act together".
"Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen", Trump wrote on Twitter, a day after western governors asked for greater federal investment in fire prevention.
That would mean he can not order FEMA to stop sending money when a disaster has already been declared.
Numerous wildfires that afflicted California late past year were wholly or partly on federal land, according to data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Gavin Newsom (D) and Sen.
Trump signed "fire funding fix" legislation in 2018 to give federal agencies $2.25 billion to fight fires starting in 2020.
Fire control is not Trump's only grievance with the Golden State, which voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Newsom in November.
A burned-out vehicle stands in Paradise California Nov. 15. Bloomberg
The Camp Fire, which erupted on November 8, 2018, and was finally contained 17 days later, killed over 80 people and destroyed almost 14,000 homes.
Trump's latest funding threat comes as he continues to face criticism over the ongoing partial government shutdown, which affects some of FEMA's operations.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on what specific actions Trump has taken, how they were legally justified and what if anything would be done to help people who are depending on FEMA for food or shelter in the wake of the wildfires. Perhaps he simply means he won't issue any more disaster declarations for California wildfires, which is easy to say now but a bit of a reach when people are dying and homes are burning.
Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning. "Attacking victims is yet another low for this president". Trump has threatened in the past to halt federal support for California but has yet to follow through. The Mendocino Complex fire, the largest wildfire in the state's recorded history, burned more than 450,000 acres north of Santa Rosa in July.
In a tweet, Trump accused the state of failing to properly manage its forests. "Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!" he tweeted during the Camp Fire, which killed 86 people, burned 153,000 acres of land and destroyed almost 14,000 homes.
Almost half the GOP Senate caucus is up for re-election next year, putting added pressure on them to get the shutdown over with. Mr Trump's remarks came 18 days into the partial Government shutdown, now the second-longest closure in history.
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But a growing number of Republicans are uncomfortable with the toll the partial shutdown is taking, and Trump's response to it. The White House moved to pre-empt the Democrats, telling reporters Monday that tax refunds would be paid despite the shutdown.
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