Pelosi Accuses California Republicans of Being ‘Cavalier’ About Wildfire Devastation

By Emily Ward | January 10, 2019 | 6:36pm EST
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Screenshot)

( - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused California Republicans on Thursday of being “cavalier” about devastation caused by recent wildfires in the state and of “looking the other way” when President Donald Trump threatened to cut off disaster assistance funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Wednesday.

“I look to my Republican colleagues from California to stop looking the other way in the president’s irresponsible behavior nationally,” Pelosi said. “But they know people died. Communities were wiped out, and they’re just cavalier about it because of the president of the United States.”

On Wednesday, Trump said he had ordered FEMA to “send no more money” to the State of California, arguing that the state had not used “proper Forest Management.”

“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” the president tweeted. “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!”

In response, Pelosi ripped into the president, calling his statement “shocking” and accusing him of punishing his own voters.

“Ironically, most of those fires, except for maybe part of what happened in, earlier, in Santa Rosa – most of those fires took place in rural California,” Pelosi said. “The votes he did get in California were in rural California. So, we’re saying to him, if you think you’re punishing our state, you’re punishing your own voters.”

"You have no right to withhold those funds,” she added.

Contrary to Pelosi’s accusation that California Republicans were cavalierly going along with the president, multiple California Republicans disagreed with Trump’s comment, including Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), who said threats to FEMA funding were “not helpful.”

“Although I share the President’s great frustration with California’s choking regulations from the stranglehold environmental groups have on the state, as well as the inaction on federal lands up until this Administration, the immediate problem for fire victims is the first need, and threats to FEMA funding are not helpful and will not solve the longer term forest management regulatory problems,” LaMalfa said in a statement.

“The President has seen first-hand our fire-ravaged areas in Northern California,” he continued. “He made the promise to help, and I expect him to keep it.”

“I ask the President to continue supporting our great need for disaster assistance in NorCal,” he added.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) blamed federal laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, for making forest management “endlessly time consuming and ultimately cost prohibitive.”

“Until the federal government acts to reform its own laws, it has no excuse for withholding funds from California for following the same policies,” McClintock wrote on Thursday.

“I strongly urge the President to reconsider this action,” he added.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) agreed that the federal government should continue to provide California with disaster assistance.

“I understand and share the President’s frustration over forest management policies in California, however we cannot withhold assistance to the victims of that mismanagement because of the actions of the state,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

“I urge the administration to properly follow and execute the laws authorizing federal disaster aid and dispense the emergency funds as appropriated and intended by Congress,” he added.

Republicans in the California Legislature also criticized Trump’s tweet. Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), who represent the town of Paradise, which was greatly affected by the disaster, issued a joint statement calling the president’s threat “wholly unacceptable.”

“The President’s threat to withhold FEMA funds from California is wholly unacceptable,” the California lawmakers wrote. “He made a commitment to the people who have lost everything in these fires, and we expect the federal government to follow through with this promise.”


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