Official Whte House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump threatened to end federal emergency funding to help aid California’s destructive wildfires on Wednesday.
Trump tweeted that “billions of dollars” are sent to California and with proper forest management, the forest fires “would never happen.”
“Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money,” he stated in his tweet.
Although the president is casting blame on California officials, most of California’s forests are owned and managed by federal agencies. Federal agencies manage 57 percent of the approximately 33 million acres of forest in the state, according to research done by the University of California.
This time of the year, the forest management teams are busy — removing brush, dead trees, and clearing trails. But as the government shutdown lingers, the U.S. Forest Service can only respond and try to put out fires, while they aren’t being paid. That means there is little to no work being done to manage forests while the government is closed, except responding to immediate safety issues.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fired back stating the president’s statement “insults the memory of scores of Americans who perished in wildfires last year & thousands more who lost their homes.”
The threat comes one day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom attacked Trump for his oval office address on the southern border calling on the president to end the government shutdown. Newsom fired back against Trump’s desire to cut FEMA funds.
“Disasters and recovery are no time for politics,” Newsom said in a tweet Wednesday.
The newly elected governor stated he, along with the governors of Washington and Oregon sent a letter to the federal government asking for their help in relief efforts.
“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 surveyed the devastation from the California wildfires in November touring Paradise and Malibu, two areas charred by the flames. At the time, he pledged the full support of the federal government in recovery efforts. Trump also met with then governor-elect Newsom and former governor Jerry Brown.
During that trip, the president also blamed “poor forest management” for the severity of the fires.
More than 13,000 families lost their homes from the fires that ripped through Butte County in Northern California. At least 85 people died from the blaze.
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