President Trump Again Threatens to Cut off California’s Disaster Funds
He’s at it again.
Flanked by mounting pressure over the government shutdown and new revelations from Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, Donald Trump set his sights on a familiar nemesis Wednesday with a tweet threatening to withhold federal disaster funds from California.
“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” the president wrote. “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!”
The tweet came two months after the start of the Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive in California’s history. That blaze destroyed nearly 14,000 homes, killed 86 people, and completely decimated the town of Paradise, California.
The president’s words were described by some as confusing, heartless, and cruel. But they aren't without precedent. Trump was criticized for a similar tweet threat on Nov. 10 as Paradise and the L.A. County City of Malibu were battling blazes in real time.
When asked about the latest tweet, representatives from FEMA could not explain what the president meant when he said California should “get their act together.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom responded quickly, saying this was not a time for politics and that the people of Paradise, who are still in the midst of fire recovery efforts, “should not be victims of partisan bickering.”
“I’m already taking action to modernize and manage our forests and emergency responses,” he wrote.
Just one day earlier, Newsom joined the governors of Washington and Oregon in requesting more funds for federal land management in the Western United States.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said the president’s tweet insulted the memory of those lost during the Camp Fire. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) said it was “out of left field” and “not helpful.” Some state Republican representatives from the area, including State Sen. Jim Nielsen of Gerber and Assemblyman James Gallagher of Yuba City, called the president’s tweet "wholly unacceptable.” Paradise Town Councilman Steven Crowder, who is also a Republican, called Trump’s words "disturbing."
FEMA is already short-staffed due to the government shutdown, which now enters its 20th day. However, like all programs that “directly apply to the protection of human life or property,” disaster relief funds will continue to be dispersed.