Trump revives threats to withhold FEMA funds from fire recovery

Larry Hoffman
January 10, 2019

Likely recognizing his spelling errors, Trump quickly deleted the tweet and re-uploaded another with the correct spelling.

The president's comments come as California continues to rebuild following the most deadly and destructive fire in the state's history.

Trump's tweet is already receiving blowback from some California officials, including Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), who tweeted, "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".

The latest announcement drew an immediate response from the state's new governor.

Newsom noted that he had joined Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee in writing a letter to the federal government earlier this week asking for an improved partnership in "taking on these unprecedented wildfires". "The people of CA - folks in Paradise", a community that was among the hardest hit by the Camp Fire a year ago, "should not be victims to partisan bickering". "Even if we eliminated all habitat for riparian species and fish, and allowed saltwater intrusion into the delta and set up a sprinkler system over the state, that wouldn't compensate for greater moisture loss from climate change". According to the AP, he said last month his state leads the nation in clearing away brush, dead trees, and other incendiary materials that feed forest fires. He threatened to withhold federal funding if California leaders did not "remedy now". The Camp Fire death toll would later rise to 86 people. Democrats are passing bills to reopen parts of the government during the shutdown, but Republicans don't plan to vote for the bills. If Trump chose not to issue such declarations, it would prevent FEMA from providing financial assistance to state and local authorities, as well as victims of those fires.

Much of California's forests is federally managed or privately owned, putting them outside the state's authority to manage. 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.

Trump's move targets a state that is home to some of his biggest political rivals, including Democratic US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is leading the fight in Congress against Trump's demands for $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall on the Mexican border.

California lawmakers last year approved a fresh $1 billion over five years for forest management activities.

Brandy Powell looks through the remains of her home in Paradise, California, that was destroyed by the Camp Fire in 2018. But he says California's wildfire victims are "American citizens who require our help".

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