Trump warns he’ll cut off FEMA money for Cal­i­for­nia fires

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - David Jack­son

WASHINGTON – Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Wed­nes­day again threat­ened to cut off fed­eral funds to fight Cal­i­for­nia wildfires, say­ing the money is be­ing wasted.

“Bil­lions of dol­lars are sent to the State of Cal­i­for­nia for For­est fires that, with proper For­est Man­age­ment, would never hap­pen,” Trump tweeted. “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!”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DCalif., re­sponded that Trump’s threat “in­sults the mem­ory of scores of Amer­i­cans who per­ished in wildfires last year & thou­sands more who lost their homes.”

It’s un­clear whether Trump has al­ready or­dered the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency to cut off money for Cal­i­for­nia fires or is threat­en­ing to do so, as he has be­fore. But the ad­min­is­tra­tion did not pub­lish an or­der in any case.

State officials have ac­cused Trump of play­ing pol­i­tics with the Cal­i­for­nia wildfires. They also ques­tioned whether Trump is go­ing af­ter Cal­i­for­nia be­cause it is a Demo­cratic state.

Brian Rice, pres­i­dent of the Cal­i­for­nia Pro­fes­sional Firefighters, cited the dam­age in and around Par­adise, Cal­i­for­nia, and said the peo­ple there “have only be­gun to be able to re­build their lives . ... Now, they find them­selves be­ing used as pawns in the pres­i­dent’s ill-in­formed chest-pound­ing at their ex­pense.”

As he has be­fore, Rice said, Trump is wrong to blame the fires on state for­est man­age­ment.

“While for­est health can be a con­tribut­ing fac­tor in large fires,” he noted, “more than 60 per­cent of these forests are con­trolled by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, not Cal­i­for­nia.”

Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Gavin New­som, who has crit­i­cized Trump over firefight­ing pol­icy, tweeted af­ter the pres­i­dent’s shut­down speech on Tues­day that “Trump’s go-to is gov­ern­ing by fear and di­vi­sion.”

On Tues­day, the newly in­au­gu­rated New­som pro­posed $105 mil­lion in new spend­ing to pre­vent, fight and es­cape wildfires in the wake of one of the state’s worst fire sea­sons.

Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion comes as he takes po­lit­i­cal heat over the par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down, which affects some of FEMA’s op­er­a­tions.

Trump has been known to de­clare pol­icy de­ci­sions only to change or mod­ify them days later. Ex­am­ples in­clude the now-slowed-down with­drawal of U.S. troops from Syria.

“It is a dis­grace­ful sit­u­a­tion in lives & money!” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump

GETTY IMAGES

It’s un­clear whether the pres­i­dent has cut off funds – or if he can.

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