West Coast Governors, President Trump Argue Over Wildfire Prevention Efforts

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom elected governor of California

President Donald Trump threatened to cut federal forest fire aid to California as the state recovers from the country's deadliest wildfire in a century. Calls to the agency were answered by this recording: "Due to the federal funding hiatus we are not able to return voice mail messages about general press queries".

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) rushed to minimize the political damage - as well as the potential loss of funds - with a statement assuring the public that "The President and his administration understand the severity of the devastation and have delivered for Californians".

Democrats blasted the president's tweet.

FEMA has disbursed almost $56 million to Camp Fire survivors and has been working with state officials on plans to remove debris from Paradise, which was virtually destroyed by the fire.

The California Professional Firefighters organisation, with more than 30,000 members, said at the time Trump's assertion was "dangerously wrong".

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FEMA has so far made available about $50 million to help victims of the wildfires in Paradise as well as in other parts of the state with housing needs, according to the agency's website.

Still, Mr Trump has not backed off, and today appeared to escalate his threats to withhold federal dollars if unspecified programs are not reformed.

Newsom fired back, telling Trump in a tweet - "We have been put in office by the voters to get things done, not to play games with lives". Attacking victims is yet another low for this president ...

Pique at new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - who, as you may know, is from California - for her refusal to give him his border-wall money is a very likely motive for Trump's sudden focus on last year's wildfire problem and his simplistic and misguided "solution" for it.

"We should work together to mitigate these fires by combating climate change, not play politics by threatening to withhold money from survivors of a deadly natural disaster", Harris wrote on Twitter.

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Trump's threat to withhold Federal Emergency Management Agency funds from recent wildfire survivors drew a swift rebuke from California Sen. Trump also met with then governor-elect Newsom and former governor Jerry Brown.

The 2018 wildfire season in California was the worst in living memory, consuming almost 2 million acres of land, killing 87 people, destroying tens of thousands of homes, requiring an estimated $3 billion in public expenditures for debris removal, and costing insurance companies over $9 billion in payments. We lost 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.

It was a gratuitous swipe at Trump that made headlines and seemed to backtrack on the progress the two made during Trump's visit to wildfire-stricken regions in November. He also announced a partnership with the governors of OR and Washington, two other fire-prone states. And numerous state's worst fires don't happen in forests at all.

The federal government is the largest landowner in all three states. Jim Nielsen and state Assemblyman Jim Gallagher all represent a Northern California community leveled by wildfire in November.

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