Trump halts federal funding to fight California wildfires

An aircraft drops flame retardant as firefighters battle the Woolsey Fire as it continues to burn in Malibu. Reuters

An aircraft drops flame retardant as firefighters battle the Woolsey Fire as it continues to burn in Malibu. Reuters

That would mean he can not order FEMA to stop sending money when a disaster has already been declared.

"It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!", the tweet says.

He corrected the spelling of forest in a subsequent tweet.

President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing after visiting the charred wreckage of in Paradise California. Reuters
President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing after visiting the charred wreckage of in Paradise California. Reuters

"When fires strike or the earth shakes, [California] needs to be prepared", Newsom tweeted Tuesday, his first full day in office. 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.

This deserves a 5-star award for idiocy. No matter how many people with rakes they deploy, forests are going to burn b/c of longer, hotter summers due to climate chaos.

When the fires broke out, Trump blamed California's poor forest management and threatened to withhold federal funding if the state didn't change its practices. That included stops in Southern California to view areas affected by the Woosley Fire, and a visit to the northern part of the state, where the Camp Fire devastated the community of Paradise.

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The California governor joined those of OR and Washington in asking the White House for more federal funding and assistance with forest management.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, called the tweet an "empty threat" and said it "isn't worth the time of day".

Brandy Powell looks through the remains of her home in Paradise, California, that was destroyed by the Camp Fire in 2018.

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More than one-half of the 33 million acres of forest in California are managed by federal government agencies, according to the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Trump's latest funding threat comes as he continues to face criticism over the ongoing partial government shutdown, which affects some of FEMA's operations. Current law states that where there is a disaster declaration, the president can not "delay or impede the rapid deployment, use, and distribution of critical resources to victims of an emergency". He also joined Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Oregon Governor Kate Brown in a letter to Trump asking the administration to double its investments in taking care of federal land in Western states.

Insurance claims from the recent spate of California wildfires have topped $9 billion and are expected to grow, the state insurance commissioner reported last month.

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The FEMA website homepage says it is now "actively contacting California Wildfire survivors to determine their housing needs and working diligently to identify additional short-term and long-term housing options".

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