President Trump’s comments fan the flames of California wildfire crisis



FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2018, file photo, a home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif. California wildland managers announced a plan to speed up logging and prescribed burns designed to protect communities from wildfires, at a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. The effort would create a single environmental review process to cover vegetation reduction projects, field breaks and restoration projects. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

Francesca Du Broca

California residents looking to rebuild after recent wildfires destroyed homes along the United States’ western coast may be at odds with statements made earlier this month by President Donald Trump.

On Jan. 9, Trump took to Twitter threatening to cut Federal Emergency Management Agency’s assistance provided to California and placed blame for the crisis on the state’s government, citing improper forest management.

In the tweet, Trump stated “billions of dollars” are given to California for the management of its forests and said that if those forests were properly managed, the state would not need continued support.

A Dec. 2 article by NBC News, showed an estimated 57 percent of the state’s forests are controlled by the federal government. While the government was shutdown over border security issues, federal workers had to clear debris, trim away underbrush and monitor further forest fire outbreaks without pay, according to Fortune Media.

Extreme weather has further complicated California’s rebuilding process. Local news station KTLA 5 reported Jan. 16 that residents of Ventura County, California, which was badly damaged by recent wildfires, had to evacuate the area due to flood advisories.

Vanessa Saunders, a Loyola English professor from the San Francisco Bay area, said fires and extreme weather forced her aunt to evacuate her home. Saunders said the extreme weather also affected her mother.

“Residents were having to wear masks over their faces due to the smoke,” Saunders said. “My mother couldn’t leave her house for a week.”

The question many Americans might ask is whether the president has the executive power to make a direct funding decision for FEMA. The Heritage Foundation labels an executive order as a “written instruction that presidents use to work their will through the executive branch of government.”

Christopher Brown, a 2016 graduate of Loyola New Orleans College of Law, said Trump’s veto power is complicated.

“Once declared a state emergency, the president would not be able to withhold funds from that particular state,” Brown said.

However, Brown added there is one catch the president could use to deflect FEMA funds from the Golden State.

“Trump could refuse to declare state emergencies in the future regarding California wildfires,” Brown said.

This is not the first time the President has made threats to cut aid to the state of California. In November 2018, Trump tweeted that the deadly fires were the cause of poor management. “Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” he tweeted.

The president’s comments have incurred backlash from Democratic and Republican politicians in the state, as well as members of the California Professional Firefighters Association. According to CBS News, the President of the Firefighters Association called Trump’s threat “a slap in the face” to men and women fighting the blazes.