Lawmakers Challenge Trump After He Threatens to Cut Aid to California Following Deadly Wildfires

Trump, Camp Fire
Paul Kitagaki Jr., Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

What do you think?

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Deb
Member

It’s dry in California. Everybody knows it’s dry in California. Why do people build up in the hills and then cry when the fires come? When was the last year there HASN’T been a fire in California? If there’s not enough rain where you live…move.

General Confusion
Member

Cut off FEMA funds?

What does the President think California is, Puerto Rico, which he abandoned like an empty coffee cup?

I am confused.

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