SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — President Trump said Wednesday he will pull emergency funding if reforms are not made to the forest management programs in California, and the threat is not going over well with leaders up and down the state, including Governor Gavin Newsom and the President of the California Professional Firefighters.
“We’re talking about people who have lost their lives… their homes,” said Brian Rice, President of the California Professional Firefighters. “I sure as hell should be able to expect the president that responds compassionately with the people that he governs.”
The firefighter’s union is not holding back after Trump revived his threat to pull FEMA funding for wildlife relief in California.
“Be tough with the political leaders…with political representatives. Be tough with them. Do it behind closed doors, where you’re supposed to do it. Have the battle there. You have a government that’s shut down, you got a community that’s lost everything, including lives. We deserve better,” Rice said.
In a tweet Wednesday, the president said, “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!”
“Will he do it? Won’t he do it? I’ll tell you this. FEMA has done a helluva job up in Paradise and I think we’ve responded in kind,” Rice said.
Governor Newsom responded in a series of tweets saying, “Disasters and recovery are no time for politics. I’m already taking action to modernize and manage our forests and emergency responses.”
The new government has pledged tens of millions of dollars to fight wildfires including $305 million to fund new helicopters, planes, infrared cameras, and new communication equipment.
About two-thirds of the funding has already been approved.
Newsom, along with the governors of Oregon and Washington have also sent a letter to the president, asking him to double the investment in managing federal forestlands.
So the big question now is if the president can really withhold FEMA funds from California. The law states the president cannot delay resources used for an emergency, but he can refuse to make disaster declarations for any California wildfire moving forward.