Feinstein, Harris to President Trump: Don’t Deny Aid to Wildfire Victims

Washington, January 10, 2019 —Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris (both D-Calif.) today sent a letter to President Trump responding to his threat to deny emergency assistance to California wildfire victims harmed during the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season in state history.

“We write to strongly object to your ill-informed tweet yesterday, which plays politics with the lives of Californians by threatening to withhold emergency assistance from survivors of the unprecedented natural disasters our state experienced last year,” the senators wrote.

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The senators continued, “Additionally, you have repeatedly proposed cutting the Forest Service budget in your official budget requests for 2018 and 2019. Fortunately, Congress has rejected your proposed cuts to forest management funding on a bipartisan basis. And now, by shutting down the government, you have halted work that needs to get done preparing California for the next wildfire season.

Full text of the letter follows:

January 10, 2019

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to strongly object to your ill-informed tweet yesterday, which plays politics with the lives of Californians by threatening to withhold emergency assistance from survivors of the unprecedented natural disasters our state experienced last year.

The Camp Fire, which was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, was finally extinguished just over a month ago. That fire alone killed 86 people, burned down 14,000 homes, and caused devastation across 153,000 acres. California firefighters fought side by side with federal firefighters to save lives and contain this massive blaze.

It is completely inappropriate for you to blame California for these natural disasters, especially considering that around 60 percent of forestland in California is under the jurisdiction of the federal government while only 3 percent is controlled by California’s state and local governments. Additionally, you have repeatedly proposed cutting the Forest Service budget in your official budget requests for 2018 and 2019. Fortunately, Congress has rejected your proposed cuts to forest management funding on a bipartisan basis. And now, by shutting down the government, you have halted work that needs to get done preparing California for the next wildfire season.

We will continue to find ways to have a constructive dialogue with your administration to mitigate the impacts of wildfire and protect our communities, but comments like the one you made yesterday make it incredibly difficult to address the long-term wildfire challenges facing California and other western states.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

Kamala D. Harris

United States Senator