Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today asked Senate and House leaders to replenish and increase funding for wildfire response and recovery in any upcoming spending package, as well as pass an additional federal relief package – known as a “disaster supplemental” – as massive infernos continue to rage in the West.
Due to Wyden and Merkley’s successful efforts to end the irresponsible budget practice of “fire borrowing,” federal agencies now have the funding needed to suppress wildfires. However, additional funding is urgently needed to replenish accounts essential for wildfire response, including emergency and health services, housing and shelter, support for first responders and firefighters, economic assistance and more, as wildfires continue to bring destruction and dangerous smoke to communities in the West.
“First responders and firefighters are working around the clock to contain these fires and respond to the immediate needs of local communities. But states are distressingly low on funds in light of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic,” Wyden, Merkley and 40 other Senate and House lawmakers wrote in a letter to Senate and House Appropriations Committees leadership. “While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal partners have mobilized to assist states, more work remains as communities begin to assess and understand the scope of damages to properties and natural resources. Congress has previously acted in the aftermath of wildfires to provide federal relief, and accordingly, we ask that you make funds available for necessary wildfire response and recovery.”
In the Senate, Wyden and Merkley were joined by U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Kamala D. Harris, D-Calif., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.
Thirty-four House members also joined the request, including Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Juan Vargas, D-Calif., Denny Heck, D-Wash., Scott H. Peters, D-Calif., Ami Bera, M.D., D-Calif., Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-Calif., Julia Brownley, D-Calif., Doris Matsui, D-Calif., Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., Jim Costa, D-Calif., Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., Suzan K. DelBene, D-Wash., Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., Dina Titus, D-Nev., Kim Schrier, M.D., D-Wash., Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., Ted W. Lieu, D-Calif., Steven Horsford, D-Nev., Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr., D-Calif., Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., Jackie Speier, D-Calif., Mike Thompson, D-Calif., Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., Susie Lee, D-Nev., Jared Huffman, D-Calif., Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and Brad Sherman, D-Calif.
A full copy of the letter can be found here.