WASHINGTON (KTVU) - President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, threatening to cut off FEMA funding to California for forest fires.
President Trump tweeted, "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 and money!"
California Governor Gavin Newsom was quick to respond by tweeting that he - along with the governors of Oregon and Washington - had sent a letter asking the federal government for help taking on the unprecedented wildfires. "We have been put in office by the voters to get things done, not to play games with lives." He added in another 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."
Senator Kamala Harris also responded saying, "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."
Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstean tweeted, "The Camp Fire killed 86 people, destroyed 14,000 homes & burned 150,000 acres. It's absolutely shocking for President Trump to suggest he would deny disaster assistance to the victims. This empty threat is based on groundless complaints, and candidly isn't worth the time of day."
President Trump's tweet surprised one formerly high ranking FEMA official. "We've never heard a President request cut off of funding," said Mark Neveau, a former FEMA Disaster Coordinator who was lead manager for several disasters. He's concerned for still active former FEMA colleagues confronted with Trump's threat. "They're gonna have to make determinations if the Chief Executive of the United States says to them, 'cut off funding.' There's no precedent for this," said Neveau.
Pulling California's FEMA funding is a sentiment President Trump has vocalized in the past.
He spoke from the White House Oct. 17 about the California wildfires. In his statement President Trump said, "what's happening should never happen," and that "California needs to get its act together." He also threatened to stop sending unspecified funding to California for wildfires.
In his full comments President Trump said, "California is a mess. We're giving billions and billions of dollars for forest fires in California. There's no reason for those fires to be like they are. They're leaving them dirty. It's a disgraceful thing. Oak trees are sitting there rotting and dry. And instead of cleaning it up, they don't touch them. They leave them. And we end up with these massive fires that we're paying hundreds of billions of dollars for to fix and the destruction is incredible. So I think California ought to get their act together and clean up their forests and manage their forests because its disgraceful. What's happening should never happen. I go all over the country and I meet with governors and the first thing they say is there's no reason for forest fires in California that in California. So I say to the governor or whoever is going to be the governor of California, you better get your act together. Because California, we're just not going to continue to pay the kind of money we're paying because of fires. It should never be to the extent. They were telling me in a couple of states. I won't even mention their name. It's like a flash, some grass will burn, it will be over in minutes. They'll lose two acres - three acres. At the most. They won't even lose that. And here we are with thousands of acres and billions and billions of dollars every year - it's the same thing every year. And they don't want to clean up their forest because they have environmental problems in cleaning it up. It should be the opposite. Cause you will lose your forest, you'll lose it. But it's costing our country hundreds of billions of dollars because of incompetence in California. So, I'm speaking now for the people of California. They don't want to see this happen. They're getting destroyed and it's hurting our budgets, it's hurting our country - and they just better get their act together."