The morning after an Oval Office press conference that allegedly garnered “soooo many nice comments” (an actual quote from the leader of the free world), Donald Trump woke up with a bee in his bonnet.
Earlier this morning, the President took to Twitter to announce that he’s ordered FEMA to stop sending funds to disaster victims in California unless the state “gets [its] act together.” In his initial tweet, which has since been taken down and replaced with the following, he misspelled forest as “Forrest”—twice.
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
Politico’s Matthew Choi reported that, as of this morning, FEMA news desk manager Michael Hart was “scrambling to understand what exactly Trump’s tweet would entail.” FEMA’s website isn’t currently being updated because of the shutdown—a notice on the site says “Due to the lapse in federal funding, this website will not be actively managed. This website was last updated on December 21, 2018 and will not be updated until after funding is enacted.”—but Hart said the agency would issue a follow-up to the tweet once they know what’s what.
Trump has repeatedly blamed California’s forest fires on improper forest management, which he appears to equate with a failure at the state level to clear underbrush. At the moment, 60 percent of California’s forest land is federally managed.
In 2018, California was plagued by deadly wildfires. The Camp Fire—the deadliest in California history—killed 86 people and burned upward of 153,000 acres. The Woolsey Fire, which burned parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties in November, destroyed 96,000 acres and resulted in three civilian deaths and three firefighter injuries.
Prominent California Democrats, including newly inaugurated Governor Gavin Newsom, were quick to clap back at Trump’s tweet.
Disasters and recovery are no time for politics. I’m already taking action to modernize and manage our forests and emergency responses.
The people of CA — folks in Paradise — should not be victims to partisan bickering.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 9, 2019
Oh, and your threat to cut FEMA funding to disaster victims is illegal.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 9, 2019
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
The federal government owns more than half of the forest land in California. Punishing our residents for how they’re managed is not only wrongheaded and cruel, it’s also absurd.
We will not abandon California families in their time of need. https://t.co/7S9nAVJz2n
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 9, 2019
Just yesterday it was announced that FEMA would be extending the deadline for fire victims to submit applications for disaster relief (which they can do at disasterassistance.gov) to January 31. To date, the agency has paid out $48.7 million in aid to victims of the most recent fires.
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.