Trump threatens to cut off FEMA aid to California for forest fires

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U.S. President Donald Trump can not withhold disaster relief once an emergency has been declared, federal statutes show, despite the Republican's tweet on Wednesday that he had ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cease helping victims of last year's California wildfires. An email sent to them generated this automated reply: "Due to the federal funding hiatus, we are not able to respond to general press queries".

It's possible Trump could follow through on his threat by closing recovery centers in California or slowing the bureaucratic process by which public assistance and individual assistance is transmitted to the state, Lemaitre said.

Both of California's Democratic senators weighed in to lambaste the president.

Governor Gavin Newsom said 167 people have been killed by fires and floods over that time.

Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the president for his Wednesday tweet.

Just last week, FEMA extended the deadline for wildfire survivors to apply for disaster assistance, including grants to help homeowners and renters find temporary housing, among other needs.

"He's never played politics with disaster declarations and we're grateful for that", Newsom said.

He also argued that federal environmental laws are to blame and suggested, "Until the federal government acts to reform its own laws, it has no excuse for withholding funds from California for following the same policies". "Attacking victims is yet another low for this president".

LaMalfa past year survived the "blue wave" that swamped so many other Republicans, although he won his district by just ten points, a steep drop from his 18-point victory in 2016 and his 22-point victory in 2014.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to join her in condemning the president's comments, saying that President Trump's "threat insults the memory of scores of Americans who perished in wildfires a year ago and thousands more who lost their homes".

Trump's threat comes after a particularly devastating wildfire season in California - and is not the first time he has said he would withhold funds from the state. Jerry Brown, D, and then-Gov. -elect Gavin Newsom, D, and appeared moved when talking about the lives lost. Wildfires ravaged California in November, leaving at least 89 dead and thousands of people displaced. The Camp Fire death toll would later rise to 86 people. Although he blames the onslaught on forest mismanagement exclusively, it's actually a much more complicated issue - weather, climate change, human-building, and mismanagement are all to blame.

McCarthy, of California, says he agrees with Trump that better forest management could mitigate California's deadly and destructive wildfires. He also announced a partnership with the governors of OR and Washington, two other fire-prone states. He doesn't have the power to unilaterally cancel federal funding for a particular agency's activities in a particular state. We need to do more.

State and local agencies control only three percent, and the rest is privately controlled. 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.