President Trump said Wednesday that he has ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to withhold funding for California unless the state takes measures to improve its forest management to prevent wildfires.
“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest (sic) fires that, with proper Forrest (sic) Management, would never happen,” Trump tweeted.
“Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money,” he added, calling it a “disgraceful situation in lives & money.”
Trump later retweeted the statement with “forest” correctly spelled.
Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest 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
This is the third time Trump has publicly threatened to withhold disaster funding from California for its wildfires and pressed the state to fix its forest management practices.
Last year, Trump claimed that Finnish President Sauli Niinistö told him that his country rakes leaves from its forest floors to prevent forest fires, a claim Niinistö has denied.
“I was with the president of Finland and he said: ‘We have a much different — we’re a forest nation,’” Trump claimed. “He called it a forest nation, and they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things. And they don’t have any problem.”
Congressional Democrats from California quickly slammed Trump and doubted his ability to withhold FEMA funds over forest management.
“It’s ridiculous. That is reprehensible. These are families who are devastated and struggling to rebuild, and it will be a long rebuilding process,” Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) told reporters. “That’s just the vindictive nature of President Trump.”
Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), meanwhile, said Trump doesn’t know anything about forest management.
“I think he shouldn’t be tweeting what he doesn’t know about,” he told The Hill. “We’re doing a hosting of new management tools for our forests that are cutting-edge. And this notion he came up with that raking forests would prevent forest fires is just nonsense.”
Costa added that Trump is unlikely to be able to pull FEMA money, saying it is “without precedent.”
And Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted that federal policymakers “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.”
Californians endured the deadliest wildfire in our state’s history last year. 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. pic.twitter.com/uMopf0Z05i
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 9, 2019