Rep. Kevin McCarthy has said he does not support withholding federal funds from fire victims in California, adding he personally advised President Donald Trump to keep the money flowing to the state.

On Wednesday, a tweet from Trump made it seem like federal funds that would go to victims of recent fires were in jeopardy.

“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” Trump said in the tweet. “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 an interview with The Californian, McCarthy said the tweet reflected a frustration the president and he shared about state laws that he said make it difficult to clean up underbrush in forests.

During a wildfire, dry brush in forests can catch fire and spread the blaze faster, potentially thwarting attempts to put it out.

Although McCarthy may be frustrated with state laws, he said he still believes federal funds should go to fire victims.

“I do not support withholding money for people that have had fires and damage,” he said. “California is getting the money.”

He said he urged the president to sign a disaster declaration last fall for fire victims in California that suffered through the deadliest wildfire season on record, and he still believes it is necessary.

“I take this very personal. I’ve seen the devastation fires cause,” McCarthy said. “That’s why when this happened in Paradise… I called the president at night, talking to him about what had happened.”

The declaration makes federal funds available to fire victims for temporary housing, home repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, according to a FEMA news release sent out in November.

Many families rely on federal aid to get back on their feet following a disaster, and the president’s tweet worried some that aid would no longer be available.

Residents of Kern County received some federal aid following the Erskine Fire in 2016, which burned nearly 47,864 acres south of Lake Isabella, killing two people.

“FEMA played a large role in the rehabilitation of the Kern River Valley by providing much needed support for reconstruction of homes,” said Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason, whose district covers the area affected by the Erskine Fire. “Federal funding through FEMA is vitally important and I’m confident it will continue.”

Throughout the state, federal funds remain crucial to people’s ability to rebuild their lives, officials say.

“Not just the funding, but the resources that the federal government brings are all very critical to be able to have a successful recovery,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

When it comes to the forest management issue, McCarthy said he will work to introduce a bill that will increase funding for states to clean up their forests.

“We want people safe from fires,” he said. “We need to do everything in our power to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future to better prepare ourselves.”

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415 or smorgen@bakersfield.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

(7) comments

ReefRanger

(cont.) is part of nature, and to not allow prescribed burning to get rid of the buildup of brush and deadfall takes nature's natural protection out of the equation. It is also ridiculous to not allow the limited use of mechanized firefighting equipment in wilderness areas when fires get too far out of control to fight with hand crews. Lastly, the Camp fire, and the fires in Santa Rosa last year were the result of one thing...NEGLECT OF MAINTENANCE BY PG&E! The idiots that run this state should make PG&E pay the bill, and stop letting them hide behind chapter 11 protections!

ReefRanger

Well, I see the Trump haters are out in force today. Why don't you guys comment on the issue instead of making hateful op-eds.
While I don't agree with Trump cancelling funding for the reason he stated, I do agree that CA's stupid environmental policies need to be reformed. Yes, protections need to be in place to protect sensitive areas, but fire

Floyd Roberts

I believe My Kevin, Trumps lap dog, about as much as I believe our lying president.

Driving5

Trump and his M&M boy, McCarthy, own the government shutdown and all the consequences that go with it. They both put themselves before country - shameful!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--6mq58zw4s

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/kevin-mccarthy-relishes-role-as-trumps-fixer-friend-and-candy-man/2018/01/15/a2696b4e-f709-11e7-b34a-b85626af34ef_story.html?utm_term=.92952b866d6f

REMUDA

Lotsa issues here, as the so-called "Shutdown" affects mostly admin people's wages, not victim payments.
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As the WX is cool and rainy, training of our Wildland Fire Crews and those eligible might go "regular" (full pay direct employees) as resources for cleanup and education.
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Perhaps that is what our local guys can look forward to. Even the highest paid firefighter III is paid less than minimum wage. Looking forward, eh?
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Semper Fortis . . . !

Boogerface Nutter

Well, good for Kevin, joining the real world.
Even he must tire of the "take my ball and go home" games that our failed businessman president keeps playing.
Figuring his animosity toward all things California is understandable..One never needs to yell "Fore!!!" on his golf course.

yorkies2014

what about Porto Rico? etc etc etc

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