Can Trump with­hold FEMA money from Cal­i­for­nia?

Merced Sun-Star - - Local - BY KATE IRBY [email protected]­ Kate Irby: 202-383-6071, @KateIrby

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump Tues­day tweeted a threat to cut off fund­ing to help vic­tims of Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires.

Can Trump do it? The an­swer is com­pli­cated.

Trump’s idea was blasted by Democrats as a cal­lous, empty threat, and even Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­cans re­leased state­ments say­ing it was the wrong ap­proach to the prob­lem of for­est man­age­ment.

Q: Can Trump with­hold FEMA funds from Cal­i­for­nia?

A: Trump al­ready de­clared a na­tional emer­gency in the af­ter­math of the Camp Fire in Par­adise. Cur­rent law states that where there is a dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tion, the pres­i­dent can­not “de­lay or im­pede the rapid de­ploy­ment, use, and dis­tri­bu­tion of crit­i­cal re­sources to vic­tims of an emer­gency.”

How­ever, Trump could start re­fus­ing to make dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tions for Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires.

Q: Has a pres­i­dent ever threat­ened to cut off FEMA fund­ing to a state be­fore?

A: Pres­i­dents have de­nied re­quests for emer­gency dec­la­ra­tions, but there is no ev­i­dence these de­nials were based on hos­til­ity to­ward a par­tic­u­lar state.

Q: What has Trump done to pro­mote for­est man­age­ment in Cal­i­for­nia?

A: For­est man­age­ment bud­gets and reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing for­est man­age­ment are writ­ten into state and fed­eral law, so Trump is lim­ited in what changes he could make. The bud­get for for­est man­age­ment on fed­eral lands is set by Congress.

How­ever, in Trump’s bud­get pro­posal to Congress last year, he pro­posed slash­ing the for­est man­age­ment bud­get by tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in the last fis­cal year and this one.

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