WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed a bill to avert a looming government shutdown by funding the government at current levels through December 11. The legislation also includes $700 million in emergency funding to help with the costs that were incurred by this year’s record wildfire season. It must still be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed into law by the President before October 1:
“It’s good news that we are on track to avert a devastating shutdown. However, the fact is that we are only funding the government for ten weeks—this is avoiding a self-inflicted catastrophe, not success. Congress must stop legislating from crisis to crisis. It’s time for our Republican colleagues to come to the table and negotiate a smart, long-term plan that invests in growing America’s economy and the middle class.
“It’s critical for Oregon that this legislation contains emergency funding to help manage the huge costs of fighting the devastating wildfires that hit the Northwest this year. Without emergency funding, the Forest Service and other agencies would be forced to sustain massive cuts to operations that Oregonians rely on, from campground maintenance, to timber harvests, to the very thinning and fuel reduction programs that help prevent these out-of-control wildfires.
“While it’s a relief that we are moving closer to securing emergency funding for this year, a long-term fix is more important than ever. We must stop the vicious cycle of robbing fire prevention to pay for wildfires that are already burning, and start treating huge wildfires like the natural disasters they are.”