President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he has ordered FEMA to withhold funds from California’s state government until officials there “get their act together” fighting forest fires. But he tweeted he thinks that is “unlikely.”
The president long has criticized California state officials, sometimes with dubious claims, over wildfires there and their steps to prevent and nix them. But stopping the flow of federal funds is an escalation of the feud, and one that might raise the ire of lawmakers — even the sizable House GOP delegation from the Golden State.
“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest fires that, with proper Forrest Management, would never happen,” the president tweeted, twice misspelling forest.
“Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money,” Trump wrote, adding: “It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”
Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest fires that, with proper Forrest Management, would never happen. 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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
Trump appeared at the same time concerned for California residents in the path of the fires’ wrath and unconcerned that cutting off the FEMA aid might put more people at risk of injury, death or losing their homes.
One potentially interested lawmaker is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy; a spokeswoman has not responded to a request seeking a comment from him.
Last April, Trump falsely stated that the California government is diverting river water into the Pacific Ocean that could be used to fight forest fires, but he also signaled he would fast-track federal help.
Over two consecutive days, the president took to Twitter to contend the administration of Democrat Jerry Brown, then the state’s governor, was sending water from “the North” into the Pacific Ocean. Trump contended Monday that water could be used for “fires, farming and everything else.”
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has been puzzled by the claims from the president.
“I’m not sure what he was recommending,” University of California, Merced professor LeRoy Westerling told the San Francisco Chronicle in April. “Even if we eliminated all habitat for riparian species and fish, and allowed saltwater intrusion into the delta and set up a sprinkler system over the state, that wouldn’t compensate for greater moisture loss from climate change.”
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