Trump Threatens to Pull FEMA Funds From California Wildfire Relief Efforts
As President Donald Trump’s government shutdown enters its third week, the president said that he plans to cut off federal aid to California wildfire victims.
“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest (sic) fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” the president said on Twitter Wednesday morning. “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!”
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.
It’s unclear whether Trump has already cut the funds or is simply threatening to do so. However, this is not the first time he’s threatened to pull funding from California over the fires, during one of the deadliest seasons on record.
“It’s hurting our budget, it’s hurting our country and they better get their act together,” Trump said in October.
The Camp Fire in Northern California was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history, killing at least 85 people and displacing thousands more. The small Butte County town of Paradise, home to 26,000 people, burned down, leaving many to evacuate to nearby Chico. But Butte already faced a terrible housing crisis before the fire.
Some local activists, who felt that the existing local and federal disaster relief infrastructure was not enough, had already prepared to take relief efforts into their own hands, turning to community-driven assistance.
California lawmakers have also called out Trump’s threats online.
“We have been put in office by the voters to get things done, not to play games with lives,” the state’s new Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a tweet directed at the president. “Disasters and recovery are no time for politics. I’m already taking action to modernize and manage our forests and emergency responses.”
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein blasted Trump as well, and said in a statement, “It’s absolutely shocking for President Trump to suggest he would deny disaster assistance to communities destroyed by wildfire,” the Washington Post reported.
Fortune reached out to FEMA for comment Wednesday. In an automated email reply, the agency said, “Due to the federal funding hiatus, we are not able to respond to general press queries.”