Just two months after the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history began, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to threaten to deny FEMA aid to the state.
“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” the president tweeted Wednesday. “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!”
During the Camp Fire that ravaged through Butte County, California this November, Trump often blamed the state for poor forest management, even at one point suggesting rangers “rake” the forest floors.
But the majority of California forests aren’t controlled by the state, they’re controlled by the federal government and therefore are under the Trump administration. Furthermore, the three most destructive fires that occurred within the last two years in California — including the Camp Fire — weren’t forest fires, according to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Lizzie Johnson.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California laid out the statistics of the Camp Fire in her response to Trump on Twitter: 86 dead and 14,000 homes burned. “This empty threat is based on groundless complaints, and candidly isn’t worth the time of day,” she wrote.
The Camp Fire killed 86 people, destroyed 14,000 homes & burned 150,000 acres. It’s absolutely shocking for President Trump to suggest he would deny disaster assistance to the victims. This empty threat is based on groundless complaints, and candidly isn’t worth the time of day. https://t.co/GfbxLQH7vI
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) January 9, 2019
Sen. Kamala Harris slammed Trump for the move. “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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/uMopf0Z05i
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 9, 2019
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was just inaugurated on Tuesday, wrote on Twitter that he already began working on a plan with the governors of Oregon and Washington on how to deal with the outcomes of last year’s fires. “Disasters and recovery are no time for politics,” Newsom wrote. “I’m already taking action to modernize and manage our forests and emergency responses.”
Disasters and recovery are no 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.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 9, 2019
Trump’s announcement is off-topic from his usual tweets about illegal immigration, the government shutdown, and the border wall. One of Trump’s biggest adversaries in the government shutdown is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For her, Trump’s announcement about ending FEMA this morning was personal, as Pelosi represents a California district. She called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to condemn the announcement. McCarthy, who also represents California, has yet to make a public comment.
.@realDonaldTrump’s threat insults the memory of scores of Americans who perished in wildfires last year & thousands more who lost their homes. @GOPLeader must join me to condemn & call on POTUS to reassure millions in CA that our govt will be there for them in their time of need https://t.co/YZJQug9zh0
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 9, 2019
Even Republicans are pushing back on Trump’s announcement. Rep. Doug LaMalfa represents California’s first district, which includes Paradise. LaMalfa is usually a stark supporter of the president, but Trump taking away aide from his constituents went too far for the congressman.
“The President has seen first-hand our fire-ravaged areas in Northern California,” LaMalfa wrote in a statement Wednesday, referring to Trump’s November trip to the disaster area. “He made the promise to help, and I expect him to keep it.”
Here is my statement in response to the President's tweet threatening to withdraw FEMA funding from California.
— Rep. Doug LaMalfa (@RepLaMalfa) January 9, 2019
Many former residents of Paradise and the surrounding area have found themselves homeless and have a long battle ahead of rebuilding and claiming losses that could take months or even years.