Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

President Orders End to FEMA Money for California Wildfire Recovery

President Orders End to FEMA Money for California Wildfire Recovery

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fired back stating the president's statement "insults the memory of scores of Americans who perished in wildfires past year & thousands more who lost their homes".

Trump's tweet early on Wednesday was a shock to Republican lawmakers in the state, who criticized Trump for politicizing disaster relief and pointed out that it was the federal government, not California, that had been doing less in recent years to manage its forests.

"Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money", the president declared.

"It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!" the President tweeted.

He later re-sent the message after correcting the spelling of "forest".

It wasn't clear whether Trump has the power to carry out his threat without Congress' consent.

CAL FIRE Local 2881 president-elect Tim Edwards said, "Now is the time for us to work collaboratively for solutions, not make unfair, unsafe assessments". A separate report from San Diego had migrants reacting to Trump's prime-time address demanding a border wall on Tuesday night. That means there is little to no work being done to manage forests while the government is closed, except responding to immediate safety issues.

FEMA is running on a thin staff because of the partial government shutdown. The small Butte County town of Paradise, home to 26,000 people, burned down, leaving many to evacuate to nearby Chico.

The president also repeated his threat to withhold billions of dollars in federal fire recovery money.

"We have been put in office by the voters to get things done", Newsom wrote, "not to play games with lives". She also called the tweet "heartless".

How did California's leaders respond?

Representative Doug LaMalfa of Richvale, a Republican whose district includes Paradise and surrounding areas scorched by the Camp fire, in a statement said he shares Trump's "great frustration" with California but added that "threats to FEMA funding are not helpful and will not solve the longer term forest management regulatory problems". Attacking victims is yet another low for this president ... However, this is not the first time he's threatened to pull funding from California over the fires, during one of the deadliest seasons on record. "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.

"The people of CA - folks in Paradise - should not be victims to partisan bickering", Newsom stated saying he's ready to take action on modernizing forest and emergency responses. Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning.

"I don't think this is an incident that politics needs to play a part in and I'm very disappointed at anybody that would use this as a political pawn", he said. And numerous state's worst fires don't happen in forests at all. The Camp Fire death toll would later rise to 86 people. "We lost 13,000 structures". Federal agencies manager 57 percent of the approximately 33 million acres of forest in the state, according to research done by the University of California.

It also came a day after Newsom and the governors of OR and Washington signed a letter asking Trump to spend more to manage the federal government's forests in the Western United States.

California Democrats were quick to rebuke Trump, who previously suggested that the state could avoid deadly wildfires by raking the forest floors.

LaMalfa previous year survived the "blue wave" that swamped so many other Republicans, although he won his district by just ten points, a steep drop from his 18-point victory in 2016 and his 22-point victory in 2014. The House, newly under Democrats' control, is planning to vote on a package as soon as next week.

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